Front row the target for Alonso in qualifying

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Fernando Alonso is looking to improve his qualifying form having set himself the target of a front row start for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

“On my lap on the medium tires, I did not have the right balance,” Alonso said. “Otherwise I could have managed to improve, as I did on the hards and I could probably have been on the front row.”

Alonso finished fourth in both practice sessions on Friday, and the Ferrari driver believes that the team can learn more from this weekend than they did in Australia.

“Today the car worked well in all conditions and that is very good news for us. This circuit is more representative than Australia for evaluating the car’s performance and so it was important to understand here today if the positive feelings from the winter were not just an illusion.”

Many drivers and teams are hoping that the forecast rain will not interrupt proceedings in Malaysia after last weekend’s race faced long delays. The race is held in monsoon season, making showers likely, and Alonso was aware of the changeable conditions.

“We must see how tomorrow goes, when it could rain at any moment and on a track where tire degradation is much higher than in Melbourne.”

Ferrari showed impressive pace in Australia, and Alonso finished a strong P2 after qualifying fifth. If he is able to qualify strongly in Malaysia, he will certainly be in the running to repeat his victory from last year at the Sepang International Circuit. His qualifying form was the weak link in his 2012 championship challenge, having claimed just two pole positions, and he has not started on the front row since the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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