Alonso looks sharp in bid to end Red Bull dominance

Fernando Alonso knows he will have to be perfect at Monaco today if he and Ferrari are to end Red Bull's qualifying domination.

Alonso offered a glimmer of hope that Red Bull might not have it all their own way around the streets of Monte Carlo after finishing quickest at the end of both practice sessions on Thursday. The Spaniard had previously only topped one of 15 practice periods over five grands prix this season, but would now appear to have a genuine shot at repeating his 2006 and 2007 victories here. Red Bull, though, have been in a league of their own on Saturdays, claiming pole at all five races and locking out the front row in three of those.

Alonso has found a rhythm and is hoping he will again be in the groove today. "This is a circuit where you need to get confidence as soon as possible," said the double world champion. "It is a circuit you need to feel okay in the car and to maximise the potential. So it was very good to start in such a way because we now don't need to go crazy, to completely change the set-up or find a miracle. We now just need continuity."

Flavio Briatore yesterday made his first appearance at a race since being thrown out of Formula One last year, when he lunched with Bernie Ecclestone. The 60 year-old Italian, who has recently battled kidney cancer, admitted that he missed F1, "like you miss cigarettes when you first give up smoking. You know something is lacking." He has no plans to return to the sport as a team principal.

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