Motor racing-Alonso forced to accept new car is not competitive

SEPANG, Malaysia, March 24 Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:59pm GMT

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SEPANG, Malaysia, March 24 (Reuters) - Ferrari are having to accept their car is not competitive after another poor qualifying session for the Italian Formula One team ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will start eighth and 12th in Sunday's race after again struggling to get a good performance from the redesigned F2012 at the Sepang circuit on Saturday.

"Obviously it was tough with the conditions we have now and we are not competitive," said Alonso, who qualified ninth but will move up the grid one place as a result of a five-place demotion for Kimi Raikkonen for changing his gearbox.

"We did one lap, we knew it was not possible to compete with the guys in front so ninth is okay," the double world champion added.

Massa, whose car had a new chassis, fared better this Saturday than he did last weekend in Australia and set a time much closer to Alonso's, although it was only enough for 12th on the grid.

"I think it was positive to make the normal qualifying, to have the car we expect to have and I think that was really positive," the Brazilian said.

Massa struggled with his car all weekend in the season opener in Melbourne and failed to finish after a scrappy race.

"If you see everything that happened from Australia to here I think it was definitely a good effort and I think now we're more in the right direction to have the best we can have in our car."

The 30-year-old's place in the team has been increasingly called into question as the man who battled for the world championship in 2008 has had two lacklustre years and has been comprehensively beaten by Alonso.

Massa, however, is confident he can close the gap to Alonso as the season progresses.

"For sure we are going to have a lot of different things to try for the next race and I hope now we're in the right direction to be all the time more competitive and fighting for the practice, qualifying and races with him." (Editing by Clare Fallon) ((abhishek.takle@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging: clare.fallon.reuters.com@reuters.net)

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