Alonso Optimistic of Progress

World Champion Fernando Alonso is confident about his team's chances at the Japanese Grand Prix following today's practice sessions

Alonso Optimistic of Progress

The Renault driver, crowned Formula One's youngest champion two weeks ago in Brazil, is looking to help the French squad take the constructors' title, with rivals McLaren currently leading by two points with the two races remaining.

Renault's hopes, however, received a boost on Friday when Kimi Raikkonen suffered an engine failure.

But his rival's problems aside, Alonso was in confident mood despite finishing the day down in eighth place.

"It is all OK from my point of view," said Alonso. "We expected rain in the afternoon so ran a lot in the first session, which was quite difficult for the drivers. When you come to Suzuka, it is such a technical circuit that it takes some time to get the best out of yourself, and also out of the car.

"So doing tyre comparisons without any practice laps, or judging set-up changes, is not very easy. But I think we looked reasonably quick, and there is more potential in the car and myself to improve. The car balance felt pretty good, so I am quite happy."

Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella was not completely pleased with his car's handling during the sessions, but also felt confident of moving forward on Saturday.

"It was a reasonable day for me," said the Italian, 14th quickest. "We did our normal job comparing the tyres, and a little bit of set-up work this morning, then things were harder this afternoon as the circuit grip seemed lower, and it started raining.

"The balance still has too much oversteer for me, but we can fix that, and I think our speed is not too bad. We should be aiming for the front rows in qualifying."

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