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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Alonso expects podium fight

Fernando Alonso says that he thinks Ferrari has got a better chance of fighting for a podium place in the Spanish Grand Prix than it did when it arrived in Turkey.

Alonso finished third in Turkey after a race-long battle with Mark Webber, securing his first podium of the season as a result. After testing a lot of new parts on the Ferrari during practice at the Circuit de Catalunya, Alonso said that he felt the team could get closer to both Red Bull and McLaren in race trim.

"We tried a lot of new things today and now we must extrapolate the information from all this work and select the best parts to put on the car for tomorrow," Alonso said. "My first impression is favourable: I think we have made a step forward. It is always difficult to judge the gaps in free practice because there are always differences between one car and the next. I am certainly not surprised that the Red Bulls are still ahead of everyone: at the moment they are fastest and tracks like this one, or Budapest are particularly well suited to their characteristics.

"Having said that, while it's true it might be difficult to beat them in qualifying, maybe in the race we can get closer, also to the McLarens and put them under pressure. We still have to work on the set-up: today we had too many things to test and we did not have time to make too many changes. I think the chances of fighting for a podium finish are even more likely here than they were in Turkey."

Alonso also said that the new hard compound introduced by Pirelli was likely to firce the team to use soft tyres in the first qualifying session, and would see a lot of pit stops.

"The tyres? Pirelli has brought a new type of "hard" and it's hard to imagine we can get through Q1 without having to resort to using the "softs." One thing we had already seen in winter testing and which has been confirmed today is that degradation is pretty significant and so there is cause to expect a race like the one in Istanbul in terms of the number of pit stops."

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