|© AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Fernando Alonso’s hopes of challenging for the title this season continued to tumble after the Spaniard could do no better than fifth in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Having hinted that the team may sacrifice a bit for the race in order to optimise the car for qualifying, Alonso will start three places behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel, well over three-tenths off the leading pace.
Ferrari hasn’t claimed pole position in Hungary since 2005 and Alonso has been away from the front row since July last year, indicating the car’s problems over one lap pace.
"It was a little miracle to be fifth," Alonso was quoted saying by Autosport. "I think it's a track that's not historically good for Ferrari."
What’s even more troubling is that the double world champion hasn’t claimed pole in dry qualifying conditions since 2010.
In the last two races, Alonso started ninth at the British GP and eighth in Germany, so fifth in Hungary came as "good news" for the Ferrari driver in what he referred to was the fourth fastest car on the grid behind Red Bull, Mercedes and the Lotus.
Alonso is currently 34 points behind standings leader Vettel and the gap is expected to increase after Sunday, considering Red Bull’s promising pace in the long runs during the practice sessions.
Teammate Felipe Massa, meanwhile, qualified seventh.
"We are well aware of the fact that Saturday is still our weak point," the Brazilian confessed. "And for that reason, we must stay focused."