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Alonso steps up Red Bull chase


Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso knows he will have to put in a perfect performance today if he and Ferrari are to end Red Bull Racing's qualifying domination.

Alonso offered a glimmer of hope on Thursday that Red Bull might not have it all their own way around the streets of Monte Carlo after finishing quickest at the end of both practice sessions.

The Spaniard had previously only topped one of 15 practice periods over five grands prix this season, but would now appear to have a genuine shot at repeating his 2006 and 2007 victories.

Red Bull, though, have been in a league of their own on Saturday, claiming pole at all five races and locking out the front row in three of those.

But Alonso found a rhythm and is hoping he will again be in the groove today following the traditional day off yesterday.

“This is a circuit where you need to get confidence as soon as possible,” said the double world champion.

“It is a circuit you need to feel okay in the car and to maximise the potential.

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“So it was very good to start in such a way because we now don't need to go crazy, to completely change the set-up or find a miracle for tomorrow. We now just need continuity with the set-up and the way we do our runs. Overall I think we found a very good car from the beginning that is very easy to drive. But we know it will be close in qualifying as we saw yesterday, with just three tenths of a second separating seven or eight cars.

“So we cannot afford any mistake on our side or with the set-up. We need to be perfect tomorrow.”

Like most of the drivers fighting it out for pole, Alonso is just as concerned at the prospect of traffic that could scupper his hopes.

With 24 cars on track during the opening 20 minutes of qualifying, the battle to scrape into Q2 will likely be a fraught, frantic affair.

“It will be difficult for everybody, a challenge for all of us,” added the 28-year-old.

“It is a challenge for the drivers to get the space to do a lap and not destroy anyone, and a challenge for the team to find the right time to send us out and with the right strategy.

“Q1 will be the time to focus, concentrate and put a lap together.

“We maybe won't need a super lap, but just enough to be in the first 15 to 16, and we should be able to do that.”

Meanwhile, Vitaly Petrov has dismissed claims from his own Renault boss that he has done a sterling job this season.

In contrast, Petrov has been far from impressed with the start to his rookie season that has seen him collect just six points from the opening five grands prix.

Petrov was forced to retire in the first three races, suffering a suspension failure in Bahrain, spinning out in Australia and then a gearbox issue in Malaysia.

Seventh place and his first points followed in China, with the 25- year-old Russian only just missing out on another top-10 finish in Spain on Sunday when he came home 11th.

Although Petrov has displayed speed and bravery, notably taking on Lewis Hamilton at Sepang, he is far from happy.

“I've had too many mechanical problems,” was Petrov's assessment ahead of tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix.

“If I had finished the first five races then I would have been much more prepared for here. From a personal perspective it's been okay, more difficult than when I was in GP2 last year, but it's Formula One so you need to adapt.”

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