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Fernando Alonso says starting on clean side of Abu Dhabi GP grid crucial to podium hopes

Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso believes that starting from the clean side of the grid for Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be a big benefit after qualifying fifth for the race.

The Ferrari driver completed a pair of one-lap runs during Q3 to put himself fifth for the eighth occasion this year.

But while he acknowledged that he was not surprised to be behind the Red Bulls and McLarens in qualifying, he is expecting to gain ground at the start and use the fact that the Ferrari is always stronger in race trim to his advantage.

"We're more or less where we expected to be," said the 30-year-old Spaniard. "All year long, with a few exceptions, Red Bull and McLaren are stronger than us on Saturday, while on Sunday the situation is usually different, with the gaps between us being much closer.

"We know we can fight for the podium, but to succeed, we will have to do everything perfectly, beginning with the start and our strategy.

"I will start from the clean side of the track and hope I can make up some places. The first lap is a good window of opportunity."

Alonso continued to use Ferrari's new-spec front wing during the session, while his team-mate Felipe Massa - who will start alongside him on the front row - reverted back to the old-spec component, having suffered from excessive flapping in practice and at the last race in India.

Technical director Pat Fry said that the team will use the upcoming Young Driver test at which Jules Bianchi will drive to attempt to cure the problem.

"With Felipe we decided to use the old type [of wing], because despite the efforts we have made these past weeks, we have still not resolved some problems relating to the behaviour of this new part, which furthermore, seem to be contagious," said Fry.

"We will continue to work on it, including during the three days of testing at this track next week."

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