Spaniard Fernando Alonso has admitted Ferrari have a fight on their hands if they are to cause an upset and win the Canadian Grand Prix Sunday ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso, a former two-time champion, leads the championship with a three-point lead on Red Bull driver Vettel, who boosted his bid to become the first driver this season to win two races by claiming pole position in Montreal.
McLaren driver Hamilton is second on the grid, with Alonso in third.
Despite expressing his satisfaction with improvements to his Ferrari, Alonso appeared to be basing his expectations more on hope than conviction.
"You never know," said Alonso, "races this year, they are difficult to predict. What we think on Saturday afternoon normally is not what happens on Sunday. We will see.
"It would be nice to win here, but we know at the moment there are two guys quicker than us. They proved it today and tomorrow we need to do better if we want to win."
The qualifying sessions emphasised the continued improvement in performance of the Ferraris, who failed to match the pace of rival teams at the start of the season.
Ferrari teammate Massa also recorded his best qualifying result of the season and will start from the third row of the grid in sixth position.
Alonso indicated he would not reject the chance of a podium place, as he did with a second place in Barcelona, to help keep his championship hopes alive.
"I am happy with the performance of the car," added Alonso. "It has been a very smooth weekend for us. The new parts worked as expected, Felipe [Massa] and me felt straightaway a good grip and a step in performance for the car.
"We repeat what we did in Barcelona and there we got an important podium and in Monaco we got a competitive car again and a good podium.
"Here, with long straights and chicanes we are also competitive."