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Fernando Alonso targeting another top-ten fightback from back of grid

Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso does not think it is unrealistic to target a points finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix despite the fact he will start from the back of the Sepang grid.

Alonso has accumulated 45 places of grid drops this weekend after a tactical engine change on Friday and taking on new parts on Saturday morning. That means he will start at the back of the grid, as he did in Belgium when he battled back to seventh.

That penalty meant he spent FP3 focusing on race set-up, before completing the solitary lap he needed to in Q1 and watching the rest of qualifying from the garage. After watching teammate Jenson Button qualify ninth Alonso is excited to see what McLaren can do from the back row.

"Yeah, definitely, we're looking forward," Alonso said. "Yesterday the car seemed to respond well, P5 in FP1, P7 in FP2, so definitely feeling OK this weekend. Some new tyres tomorrow to exploit the potential of the car so we'll try and do a good race.

"I think a points' finish is an ambitious target but still possible depending on what happens in front of us as well and how the first laps go in our favour. But I think we are ready to really enjoy it because the pace is there and exploiting the new tyre advantage hopefully we can recover places."

Having run the upgraded Honda engine on Friday, Alonso switched back to the old specification for the rest of the weekend. The Spaniard does not think there should be much difference between the two, despite the impressive times he posted on Friday.

"Well the upgrade is more for better reliability, so the performance should be the same."