Formula One: Alonso puzzled by poor Valencia qualifying

Fernando Alonso was pleased with his Ferrari's performance but surprised to be starting from the sixth row of the grid after qualifying in 11th position for Sundays European Grand Prix.

The Maranello-based outfit were stunned after both Alonso and Felipe Massa, complete with an array of upgrades to their cars, came within three tenths of a second of Q2 pace-setter Romain Grosjean of Lotus, but did not make it into the final top-ten qualifying shootout.

The double champion was left scratching his head after what he had felt was a strong performance.

"I think how close the times were. From a handling point of view, driving the car, everything was good" he said.

"In Montreal we were four tenths from the quickest in Q2, and here we were two tenths from the quickest in Q2.

"Performance wise it is one of the best performances for us this year. Position wise, it is one of the worst.

"We were not quick enough," he said. "Normally if you get into Q3 it is because you deserve it and because you do the job. We will try to recover tomorrow and try to gain some positions."

Alonso, currently second in the drivers' behind Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, admitted he had no chance of catching the Englishman who qualified second fastest, but is hoping to make the most of an extra set of tyres during the race.

"The podium is out of reach and clearly, with Hamilton on the front row, it's easy to expect that we will lose ground to him," he said.

"However, the race will be very long and will be run in even higher temperatures than today's, which means everyone will have to be very careful when it comes to tyre management.

"Let's hope that, starting from the clean side of the track I can quickly make up a few places and then we will try to also make the most of the two sets of new Softs we have left."

His team-mate Massa, winner in Valencia in 2008, was also feeling frustrated after qualifying down in 13th position, but is also hoping a good strategy can propel him further up the field.

The Brazilian said: "Obviously, we are not happy today, but we know we have a good car and we still have every chance of securing a good result."

"Tomorrow, strategy will play a very important role and we have seen on several occasions - Canada being the last one - how even those who start from the back have a chance of fighting for the top places.

"Obviously, we are not happy today, but we know we have a good car and we still have every chance of securing a good result."

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