Date: 18th March 2013 at 12:53pm
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After the slow start that Ferrari endured at the start of the 2012 Formula One season Fernando Alonso was understandably delighted with performance of his Ferrari on opening weekend in Australia.

Throughout all three of the first practice sessions in the dry and in the wet Alonso never slipped any further than a second off the pace, whether it was the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel leading the way or the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.

So when the final stage of qualifying finally began on Sunday morning, Alonso looked in good shape and recorded fifth place on the grid, being just pipped by in-form team-mate Felipe Massa, the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

Speaking to formula1.com after qualifying Alonso said: ?I am very pleased with this result, because if our aim for the year is to reduce the gap to our competitors and start from better positions than we have done in the past two seasons, we can claim to have managed it. After winter testing, it was difficult to draw any conclusions and that was also the case today, with a delayed qualifying and very changeable weather conditions. Once again, Red Bull demonstrated its superiority, but while it?s true that we fought with them right down to the last race, for the past two seasons, I am sure that once again this year we will be there to mix it with them, if we do everything perfectly without making mistakes. I think that starting from fifth, a podium finish is a realistic option.?

As ever the former two-time Formula One Champion was bang on the money with his assessment. The Spaniard enjoyed an excellent start off the grid, leapfrogging Mark Webber before getting squeezed out going into the first corner.

Once the race had settled down into its natural state the Ferrari’s began to slowly inch their way towards the front, the Mercedes of Hamilton was attempting a different tyre strategy that meant they wouldn’t keep up with the pace, while the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel couldn’t match the race pace of Fernando Alonso.

But it was the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen that stuck to its tyre strategy and calmly went about it’s business and took the victory.

But Alonso was happy to be content with a podium finish as well as beating the Red Bull’s.

‘I think the three stop strategy was the right one: with the degradation we had, it would have been impossible to manage on one less and bringing forward the second one by a few laps meant I was able to pass Vettel and Sutil. Finishing ahead of the Red Bull tastes like a win, even if we know that despite today?s race result, they are still the quickest. Now we can expect another weekend with very changeable weather and one that also puts a lot of stress on the cars from a mechanical point of view and on the drivers, from a physical one. But we can tackle it calmly on the back of this good result.?

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