Alonso plays down poor qualifying

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World championship challenger Fernando Alonso has played down his poor performance in qualifying today in Belgium, after the Spaniard finished just tenth in Q3 ahead of tomorrow afternoon's Grand Prix. Alonso was caught out by the weather more than most and was unable to set a quick enough laptime to challenge the frontrunners when the rain arrived just at the wrong time as he began his final flying lap.

With a 20-point deficit to championship leader Mark Webber, Alonso is under pressure to score another big points haul this weekend, but remains optimistic that the unpredictable Belgian weather will help him in tomorrow's race.

"Obviously, I can't be pleased with this result, but it has to be said that if there is one track where grid position is less critical than others, then it is this one," said Alonso after qualifying, "both because of the track characteristics and because the weather can be very changeable: in some cases the right decision at the right time can see you make up an advantage of a minute, therefore we will have to be clever and make the most of every opportunity."

Alonso explained that he had only one new set of soft tyres left for Q3 and saved them for his second run when the rain arrived. Nevertheless, he has vowed to stay cool and collected for tomorrow's race.

"In Q3, I only had one set of new soft tyres left and I used it on my second run when, unfortunately, there was a bit of rain," he explained. "There's no point in making a drama over this tenth place: we must stay calm and concentrated, because qualifying is one thing and the race is quite another when the points are given out, not today."