Two-time champion Fernando Alonso believes he can still win Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix despite qualifying only in sixth place for Ferrari on Saturday.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, who won the inaugural race last year and finished second last weekend in Japan, said he felt the race could be a very different experience for him than qualifying.
“I can’t be happy with sixth, but the position reflects our current situation,” he said.
“McLaren and Red Bull are stronger than us so it just leaves us to fight between ourselves for fifth and sixth places.
“That’s how Saturday goes, but maybe tomorrow will end up like Sunday in Suzuka and we will find ourselves again fighting for the win,” said Alonso.
“When tyre degradation is very high, usually we are in good shape, but here the situation is not very clear, as the behaviour of the ‘super-softs’ over a long run and on full tanks is still an unknown quantity.
“We had considered using this tyre right from Q1 but then we decided not to take too many risks. Unfortunately, I start from the dirty side of the grid, which should be a major disadvantage here, so I hope I don’t lose a place to (Nico) Rosberg.
“We will have to keep an eye on what happens ahead of us and exploit the strategy in our favour.”
His Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa outpaced him for the second time this year.
He said: “I am happy with my performance — I think I got a good lap on my final run, after the first one in Q3, when I used the same set of super-softs I had already run in Q2.
“My impression is that we are now also improving our Saturday performance, but there are still four cars in front of us and so the grid position stays more or less the same.
“Going into this Grand Prix there was a lot of concern about tyre degradation, but from what we have seen, it seems to be less severe than expected.
“Let’s see how things go. I am confident — if nothing strange happens to me, as has been the case in the last few races, then I think I can do a good job.”