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US GP: Alonso certain he will outscore Vettel despite poor qualifying

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Austin 2012Fernando Alonso is convinced he will reduce the gap to Sebastian Vettel in the championship in Sunday's United States Grand Prix despite starting seven places behind the German.

Vettel secured his sixth pole position of the year at Austin on Saturday as his only title rival struggled for pace and finished down in ninth position.

Alonso will start from eighth thanks to a penalty for Lotus's Romain Grosjean.

The Ferrari driver, who was outqualified by team-mate Felipe Massa for only the second time this year, said his position was no surprise to him.

"Yes, we expected it," Alonso said. "We knew it was going to be complicated. We started seventh in Abu Dhabi and eighth here, so more or less the positions have been the same.

"As always, the race is tomorrow. I still think that tomorrow we are going to reduce the gap to Sebastian, which is what counts.

"He starts from pole and he has a very strong pace, but the race will be long and let's see if we can seize our opportunities."

The Spaniard needs to finish in at least fourth position to keep his championship hopes alive if Vettel wins the race, but he insisted he remains confident about his prospects.

"We'll see how the start goes. If he wins the race and then wins again in Brazil he will be champion and deservedly so.

"We are fighting to make it into Q3, so we have got here miraculously and we are going to try to hang on to hope.

"As I said, for whatever reason, I have the strange feeling that tomorrow we will reduce the gap."

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