Alonso says Mercedes a step ahead of everyone
15 March 2014 – Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso says that Mercedes is a step ahead of their rivals after qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.
Alonso set the fifth fastest time while Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Sunday's season-opening race, with Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg in third place.
"I knew that the results of free practice did not reflect the reality of the situation and that the hierarchy would only become clear today, with Mercedes a step ahead of the rest," said Alonso, who topped the first practice session on Friday.
"It would also give a clearer picture than the one we had from testing, when we couldn’t be sure what the other teams were testing. I think fifth is a good result in such a difficult qualifying session, especially as it’s the first time
we’ve run in the wet with the new car and because from this position, a podium finish is possible, which is worth a lot of points. We were lucky in Q1, when the rain came just after I’d done my quick lap and in Q2 we were also able to run when the track was at its best."
Alonso says that Ferrari now understands where they need to improve and insists that finishing the race is the team's priority.
"Now we have seen in which areas we need to improve and the aim is to do so in the next few races," he added. "I don’t think the consumption factor will change things too much, because when saving fuel, all the cars lose half a second. On top of that, the weather will come into play tomorrow as the forecast isn’t clear. The priority is to finish the race and to do better than the others in the coming months.
"I am sure that with practice, we will learn how to get the most out of the car and simplify all the procedures."