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F1 NEWS 

Alonso expecting 'difficult' weekend

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Malaysian GPFernando Alonso is expecting a difficult Malaysian Grand Prix weekend for Ferrari after a slow start to the weekend in Friday practice.

The Spaniard, who was fourth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, finished the afternoon session in ninth position, over 1.7 seconds off the pace set by Mark Webber's Red Bull.

Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa was 1.2 seconds off Webber's best.

The two-time champion conceded that, even if it's only Friday, things are not looking great for the Italian squad.

"We'll see tomorrow where we are, but we weren't too fast today and we are not expecting miracles for tomorrow," Alonso told Spanish reporters.

"We know it will be a difficult qualifying, a difficult weekend and we will try our best to be as close as possible to the leaders so in the race, with the start, the tyre wear, the strategy, the possibility of rain, we can take any opportunity to be on the podium, which is still the target every weekend."

He added: "I'm aware that we are lacking speed. Even if it's only Friday the feeling is that they are pretty quick, especially Red Bull, so fighting for pole is difficult.

"But we'll try to do our best and also look at the weather. We'll see what the track conditions are and we'll try to take every opportunity that arises."

The Ferrari driver, however, believes qualifying strongly will be less important this time out, as the weather and the tyre wear are going to be play important roles in the race.

"I think it will be a race where qualifying is going to have a much lesser importance that in other circuits," he said.

"First because of the tyre wear and the amount of pitstops we'll have to do, and second because of the possibility of rain on Sunday."

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