Alonso plays down Ferrari hopes of revival in Shanghai

Fernando Alonso is not expecting to see an upturn in Ferrari's qualifying pace in China this weekend despite a dash by several of the team's key players to their Maranello headquarters after last Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali, technical chief Aldo Costa and engineering boss Pat Fry all returned to Italy after the race in Sepang instead of travelling straight to Shanghai for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. The Ferraris of Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa were around a second slower than the pace-setting Red Bulls and McLarens in qualifying during the opening two rounds of the campaign – a statistic that left the pair floundering in the pack come the races and without a podium finish to their credit.

It was hoped a gentle nudge to the staff back at Ferrari HQ could go some way to turning the corner, but two-time world champion Alonso does not envisage there being a quick fix this weekend. "There is not much time to change cars so I expect difficult pace, a difficult weekend again. The race is long," he said after finishing sixth in Sepang, one place behind Massa. We arrive in China knowing that it will be difficult but we will have some opportunities if we do things right."

Having appeared to be Red Bull's nearest challenger in pre-season testing, Ferrari's dismal qualifying pace thus far has arguably been the biggest surprise of the campaign's opening weeks – eclipsing even McLaren's upturn after turning in some woefully underwhelming testing times.

At least in race trim the new Ferrari appears to have some grunt, with Alonso enjoying good tussles with both Red Bull's Mark Webber and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton last Sunday, albeit aided by the fact the Australian had lost his KERS and the Briton was battling excessive tyre wear.

"We need to keep working in a good direction as we did [in Malaysia]," Alonso continued. "In Australia we were not quick enough in qualifying, [while] in the race we were struggling a lot and were 40-50 seconds behind the leader. I left Sepang much more happy because we were fighting with them. We did not expect to be fighting with them, so there is a very positive atmosphere now in the team."

Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo has tipped his team to dredge up an "amazing response" to their early-season problems. "I am definitely not satisfied with the way the season has begun, but I have complete faith in the people here," Di Montezemolo said. "I am sure there will be an amazing response. I know everyone is working flat out and I have great faith in the human and technical strengths of our people.

"I believe the period when the most we can hope for is a podium will soon come to an end."

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little