Sepang: Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso says the team can be proud of its performance in Saturday's qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix despite still being well off the pace of its Formula One title rivals.
Alonso will start from eighth in Sunday's race and teammate Felipe Massa from 12th. They may be lowly positions for a team of Ferrari's stature, but it still represented progress from the poor qualifying performance for last week's season opener in Australia, when both drivers failed to make it past the second session.
"We have to be happy and proud for the team here trackside that we maximized today, to start from 8th and 12th," Alonso said. "It's a step forward in this race. There is no doubt the car was feeling a little bit better."
Looking ahead, he added: "The qualifying went well for us ... but we need to work a lot. Even if the result is the maximum we can achieve now, it's not enough for our expectations, so we need to improve quickly."
Alonso was 1.3 seconds off the pole position time of Lewis Hamilton while Massa was three tenths of a second off making it into the final qualifying session.
Massa's car had been totally overhauled since Australia and the Brazilian is beginning to feel more in control at the wheel than he was in Melbourne.
Massa said he was "more happy now because I have what I expect in a car in the qualifying for the first time. It was positive to finally have the car we expect to have ... for sure I am looking forward to improve now even more."
His future at Ferrari had come under intense scrutiny since his problems in Melbourne, but he claimed to be unaffected by the speculation.
"I don't really (feel) frustrated about the pressure, all the comments and rumors - that's not my problem," Massa said. "I don't care for that to be honest."