sport

Alonso hails team after crash

Fernando Alonso thanked Ferrari for his qualifying recovery after being in the "wrong place, wrong moment" in a collision with Daniil Kvyat.

Red flags were brought out for the second time early in the second session as Alonso and Toro Rosso's Kvyat ran into one another in wet conditions at the Sepang International Circuit.

The stewards later deemed neither man to be "wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident" after hearing from both drivers and upon review of video evidence.

Alonso limped back to the pits with a broken front-left suspension, and courtesy of rapid repairs from his mechanics was able to return to the track and eventually claim fourth on the grid behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Asked what had happened, Alonso initially quipped: "We crashed!"

The Spaniard then added: "I didn't see him, that's the truth.

"I turned in and I only felt the hit. I didn't see him before the hit on the car.

"I've not seen any replay, or anything like that, so I don't know where he was coming from, whether he was late on the braking, if he locked the tyres. I don't know.

"But it was a surprise to have this kind of attack given we were on an 'out' lap, the visibility and the conditions.

"It was unfortunately a situation of wrong place, wrong moment.

"I was lucky to make it back to the pit lane and for the team to repair the car in a world record time for a front suspension change, so thanks to them."

Alonso did, though, suffer steering difficulties for the remainder of qualifying which he described as "chaotic" due to the inconsistent rainfall.

"To turn to the right I could move (the steering wheel) with one finger, but to turn to the left I struggled with both hands. It was very heavy on one side and very light on the other," added Alonso.

"And in those conditions it was not the easiest way to drive the car, but we managed to get the car on track to complete the laps, and they were enough to be fourth, so I'm very happy."

Although the wet conditions proved something of a leveller as Hamilton pipped Sebastian Vettel by just 0.055secs, in the dry Alonso knows Mercedes will prove virtually unbeatable if they are reliable.

"In Australia (at the first race), one of the Mercedes - which are very dominant at the moment - retired after a couple of laps," said Alonso.

"So we need to be there, to apply pressure and try to ensure they don't have an easy race.

"But at the same time we have to be realistic and realise it's going to be difficult for us to keep that pace."