Alonso expects to struggle
Fernando Alonso has admitted he expects to struggle in the Korean GP with the Spaniard's faltering title hopes hanging by a thread after another lacklustre qualifying display from Ferrari in Yeongam.
The Scuderia driver, currently 60 points behind pole-sitting World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel in the standings, will start Sunday's race in just fifth place despite Mark Webber's ten-place grid penalty.
The F138 has struggled for pace all weekend, with Alonso eight-tenths slower than Vettel in qualifying, and the two-time title winner has conceded he faces a long afternoon on Sunday.
"We are not particularly strong this weekend and in the race pace on Friday we saw some problems so a little bit less optimistic in terms of winning the race or a podium finish tomorrow, but we will try our best," a forlorn Alonso told Sky Sports F1 afterwards.
"At the start there is a very short space into turn one, so we will do all of our attacks into turns three and four and we will see what we can do, but we know we will struggle tomorrow."
Typically so defiant in the face of adversity, it seems as if even Alonso has come to realise that he will be unable to prevent Vettel from claiming a fourth successive title whilst suffering such an acute speed disadvantage in qualifying. The Ferrari driver is yet to start a race on the front-row this season and hasn't lined up higher than fifth since April's Bahrain GP.
"It's the way it is," added Alonso. "We know we have this weak point. We have a deficit of one second to our main rivals, but we will keep fighting until Brazil.
"We are third or fastest, clearly, but we are second in the championship. In a way, I am very proud of our personal performance. On the other, I know that we must work even harder to close that gap."
Team-mate Felipe Massa, whose future in the sport remains in doubt following the Scuderia's decision to appoint Kimi Raikkonen as Alonso's 2014 partner, also endured a tough day at the office.
"For sure today we were not so competitive - we expected to be more competitive than we were in Singapore when we were far away and here we are still far compared to Red Bull and Mercedes. So the situation is not so easy for us - the race tomorrow I hope the car is a little bit better than it was in qualifying, but it will not be easy," said the Brazilian.
"We are fighting not just with Red Bull and Mercedes but also with the other teams - we have a Lotus in front of us and Sauber are close so we are fighting with many other teams."
Sky F1's coverage of the Korean GP begins at 5.30am, with lights out at 7am