SEPANG, Malaysia, April 9, 2011 (AFP) - Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso warned his Ferrari car was simply "not quick enough" on Saturday after another disappointing showing in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Alonso, who qualified fifth on the grid, said Ferrari's 150 degrees Italia car lagged leaders Red Bull and McLaren in aerodynamics. But he also said he could claim a podium spot if he completes the race.
"The car is not quick enough," the 29-year-old Spaniard said. "These days aerodynamics are 90 per cent of the performance of the car so I think that's one area that we need to analyse better and normally every improvement you put in the car, again, 90 percent of the time is an aerodynamic update. "So that's something where they (Red Bull and McLaren) maybe did a better job than us at the moment."
Alonso said Ferrari had struggled at the season-opener in Australia, where he finished fourth, and predicted a difficult time next week in China. But he said the team could make up ground over the season.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo made it clear at the team launch that only the championship would do this year -- a pressure of expectation that Alonso prefers not to carry. "Unfortunately we weren't quick enough in Australia, not quick enough here to fight for pole and China is in five days' time, so I expect a difficult race as well," he said. "We'll see. At the moment that's what we have and we need to score as many points as possible."
He added that despite being a second slower than the pace-setters ahead of him, he was remaining calm.
"I'm very optimistic for the championship chances. I think this is a long championship with many races and anything can happen," he said.
"Last year we struggled in some races, like in Turkey when I was out of Q3, and then one week later I was fighting for pole position in Monaco. We have to be really concentrated. "There is no secret we need to improve. We must improve in the next coming races because we are not quick enough at the moment. But also we have to remain very calm, very focused because the championship is very long."
He added: "I think we were expecting maybe more problems, and a worse qualifying position. So, to be fifth, starting from the clean side, with the race in front of us.. I think if we finish the race we will be on the podium." Alonso's Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa qualified in seventh place.