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."

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test