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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 October 2006, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Alonso hopeful of Renault revival
Fernando Alonso
Alonso will lose the title if he fails to score and Schumacher wins
Fernando Alonso says Renault can still compete at the Japanese Grand Prix despite Ferrari's pace in qualifying.

Felipe Massa led Alonso's title rival Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari front row as their Bridgestone tyres proved faster than Renault's Michelins.

"We have to believe in the Michelin tyres and their consistency in the race," said Alonso.

"Of course the position isn't ideal for the championship fight but we have seen big turnarounds already this season."

We knew that qualifying would be difficult for us because we didn't have enough pace on one lap

Fernando Alonso
With Ferrari's Michael Schumacher able to clinch the championship if he wins and Alonso fails to score on Sunday, the Renault driver's hopes of retaining his world title look increasing slim.

Alonso, level on 116 points with the German but behind 7-6 on race wins, will have his work cut out at Suzuka with the Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Italian Jarno Trulli between him and the Ferraris.

Ferrari, who have won six of the last seven races, and Toyota both use Bridgestone tyres while Alonso was the leading Michelin driver - ahead of team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

But the 25-year-old was determined to put a positive spin on Saturday's qualifying.

"This result is OK I think," he said. "We more or less knew that qualifying would be difficult for us after the morning's practice session, because we didn't have enough pace on one lap.

"We have done the maximum though, and I am the leading Michelin car - with Fisi right alongside me. The car feels good to drive round.

"In one lap performance it was a big difference in the tyres, we believe, and tomorrow it will be closer but still some advantage for them."

Alonso and Fisichella were consistently slower than the Ferraris throughout the day, with the world champion more than three-quarters of a second behind Massa in the final qualifying session.

But the Spaniard is confident the gap in performance between the two teams will be considerably less under race conditions.

"It will be better, I hope and we believe," he said. "Today, in one lap performance, it was a big difference in the tyres and tomorrow will be closer, but still some advantage for them.

"What we have to know and being realistic is that we are not at the right pace this weekend compared to the Bridgestones and, if we finish on the podium, overtaking the Toyotas, will be a super result for us."

Ferrari duo leave Alonso trailing
07 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Japan GP qualifying as it happened
07 Oct 06 |  Formula One


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