Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will start today’s Chinese Grand Prix from fifth place on the grid and believes the team has made its first step in improving the F14T, despite his quickest lap being over 1.7 seconds off the pole-winning time posted by Lewis Hamilton.

“I think that here in China, we have taken the first step towards improving,” he said after Saturday’s qualifying session.

“The car behaved well in all areas and is performing better on the aerodynamic front, thanks to the small updates we have introduced here and we have more power, having revised some settings on the power unit.”

Despite the wet conditions, the Spaniard was very pleased with the way qualifying went and is hoping he can keep up with the leaders and get closer towards the team’s first podium of the season.

“When it rains you never know how things will go as track conditions get worse lap after lap so that’s one reason for me to be pleased with the way qualifying went. Fifth place means I can start with the lead group and if I can stay with the leaders we can finish closer to the podium,” he added.

Alonso, one of just two multiple winners at Shanghai – the other being Hamilton – knows that the key to a decent result will be keeping out of trouble through the tight opening sequence of corners on the first lap.

“The opening laps of the race will count for a lot. Therefore we must try our absolute best to get a good start and to avoid battles, which in the last races saw us lose ground.”

In Friday’s practice sessions, which were run in the dry rather than the rain seen yesterday, Alonso was more competitive and hopes that the team will have a better race than the previous three.

Image via XPB Images

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8