MONTE CARLO // Fernando Alonso provided a rare compliment to his old nemesis Lewis Hamilton, saying the grid for today's Monaco Grand Prix is not representative of the true order and that his former teammate should have been on pole position.
The Ferrari driver, who had appeared so imperious in practice, finished fourth fastest during qualifying at Circuit de Monaco. Sebastian Vettel led Jenson Button and Mark Webber to claim Red Bull Racing's sixth consecutive pole position, but Alonso said an accident involving Sergio Perez, Sauber's Mexican rookie, prevented Hamilton taking the front place on the grid.
Hamilton, who was paired with Alonso at McLaren-Mercedes in 2007, finished seventh before being demoted to ninth after cutting the chicane during his fastest lap.
"McLaren were very quick and I think Hamilton was probably favourite to get pole," Alonso said.
"I don't think the result of Q3 represents the true order because the red flag mixed up plans for many of the drivers. For Hamilton, it went badly, while everything was fine for Red Bull, with us at a halfway point."
Both Alonso and Hamilton face a tough challenge to improve their position on track and the Ferrari driver said he expects "overtaking will be pretty much impossible" even with the new regulations introduced at the start of the year. Hamilton, meanwhile, was in no doubt of where he should be starting this afternoon's race.
"I felt I'd been driving well all weekend and had the pace to be on pole, I'm certain about that," he said.
"I'll do my best from my grid slot - and, while it'll be tough to win from there, I won't give up. I'll keep pushing. My job will be to get as many points as I can."
Hamilton admitted his team employed the wrong strategy by waiting until the end of Q3 to post a competitive time.
"In hindsight, we would have perhaps gone out earlier to get a banker in, but it didn't happen," he said.
"When we did go out [Felipe] Massa held me up on my lap. He was in the middle of Turn Three into Turn Four and I lost a lap basically."
Hamilton vented his frustration with Alonso's teammate by raising his hand and gesturing angrily.
He later cut the Nouvelle Chicane coming out of the tunnel, resulting in his recorded lap being deleted by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the sport's governing body.
"I was on the limit with no front end and I just understeered and went straight over," he said of the incident.
Massa, who will start from sixth, said his session was "a mixture of satisfaction and regret", but added he intends to stay calm and cool-headed, because any mistake can cost you dearly".