Sluggish Ferraris look for more Sunday speed

Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:47pm EDT
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By John O'Brien

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - It was a case of 'business as usual' for Ferrari in Singapore on Saturday as the Italian team ended a disappointing two days of practice and qualifying well off the pace and hoping to make up ground with superior race strategy.

Fernando Alonso has done brilliantly to convert mediocre grid positions into podiums this season to lie second in the drivers' championship, 53 points adrift of Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel.

However, with only seven races remaining and Vettel on pole for Sunday's night race, the Spaniard will be starting three rows back in seventh place and needing to pull another rabbit out of the hat to keep his title hopes alive.

"I think we were not competitive in any of the sessions this weekend unfortunately and we are struggling a little bit with the pace compared to our main competitors, but in a way it's nothing new from some other weekends," Alonso told reporters.

"In qualifying, we struggle a little bit and on Sunday, things are improving and at the end always getting close to the podium or on the podium.

"So we will try and do our good Sunday again and hopefully score many points and see where our main competitors finish the race."

Vettel is seeking a hat-trick of Singapore wins, and with the German comfortably quicker than all his rivals this weekend, it might be time for Ferrari to shift focus to next season's car and the arrival of Kimi Raikkonen as Felipe Massa's replacement.

Alonso, however, is refusing to throw in the towel just yet and believes there is a chance for the team to score good points with a strong strategy.   Continued...

Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain is interviewed after the qualifying session of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore September 21, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Chong