Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were pleasantly surprised with the pace of their cars on Saturday, after qualifying second and third respectively ahead of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix. The duo trailed only the championship leader Sebastien Vettel in the final qualifying session.
"We are two tenths, 1.5 tenths behind RBR, which is a much better result than we expected and a much better result than the first six races," Alonso said after qualifying. "We are happy with the performance of the car, it has been very smooth the whole weekend and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
"The car felt competitive from yesterday and today," he added. "It is a good feeling being back to the top positions, close to fighting for pole, and having Felipe in the top three too is a nice team result."
Massa, who lines up third as he continues his most impressive weekend of the 2011 season so far, was similarly enthusiastic.
"It was a good qualifying for us straight away," he said. "It looks like we are competitive compared to other teams who were in front of us before, like McLaren.
"We have seen that our car is competitive and that we're much closer to Red Bull, compared to previous races, so it was a good qualifying, a good day for us. We need to be ready and we hope we can have a good day tomorrow as well.
The strong performance in qualifying was partially down to McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton being compromised by their wet-weather setup. But Alonso was unconcerned by the possibility of being caught out by rain in tomorrow's race.
"The forecast so far is for rain tomorrow and we haven't run in wet conditions with the whole field together," he pointed out. "We cannot forget McLaren, despite their qualifying position, with the set-up they have and the speed they have, they have a lot of downforce and in wet conditions they could be very competitive."
"Conditions are likely to change, so maybe this was one of the less important qualifying sessions of the year, but tomorrow everybody's cards are on the table and we definitely have a chance to win the race."