x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Fernando Alonso realistic on Monaco Grand Prix prospects

The two-time world champion starts in sixth place while teammate Felipe Massa starts last.

Fernando Alonso starts sixth in Monte Carlo in his Ferrari.
Fernando Alonso starts sixth in Monte Carlo in his Ferrari.

MONTE CARLO // Played out on an unforgettable backdrop, Ferrari endured an afternoon to forget. Fernando Alonso conceded he is no longer fighting for the race win at today's Monaco Grand Prix after a disappointing qualifying session, while Felipe Massa suffered a shunt in the morning practice so heavy that his team was unable to repair his car in time and will start the race from dead last.

Alonso will start from sixth, but was virtually throwing in the towel on his chances of winning the 78-lap race for a third time.

"It's going to be difficult now," Alonso said. "It's not the best qualifying position if you want to fight for the race win. Nothing is impossible in Formula One, but it's going to be very unlikely that we'll fight for the victory."

The Spaniard, winner at his home race two weeks ago, trails Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel by 17 points in the drivers' standings while Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus is also 13 points ahead.

"The main target now is to finish in front of our competitors in the championship and this is perhaps possible," he said.

"I start on the same row as Kimi while Sebastian is just one row ahead, so with a good start and good strategy we can do it."

Massa, the Brazilian driver with the regrettable record of being the last man to have failed to convert pole position in Monaco into victory, appeared to lock his front wheels midway through yesterday morning's practice, careering first into the guardrail before spinning across the track into the barriers. While he emerged with nothing but "a bit of muscle strain", his car was too damaged to take part in qualifying later in the day.

"It's a real shame starting from the back, especially on a track where it's so difficult to overtake, but now we need to be optimistic," he said. "We know we are starting from a very difficult position, but the race is long and anything can happen."

Massa's pain was rookie Giedo van der Garde's gain as the Caterham driver, helped in part by the smaller field, progressed to the second part of qualifying for the first time before eventually securing an impressive 15th place on the grid, ahead of Williams' Pastor Maldonado.

The Dutchman's previous best qualifying performance had been 18th, at the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this month.

"I've said since the start of the season that I'd make progress, and today showed how far we've all come in just six races," Van Der Garde said. "And there's more to come."

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