SILVERSTONE, U.K. -- Fernando Alonso says Formula One now has "three Ferraris on the track" because Sauber appears to have drawn level with Haas in terms of raw performance.
Sauber turned in a strong performance in qualifying for the British Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc claiming ninth, but still did not get close to challenging fellow Ferrari customer Haas' lockout of the fourth row of the grid. Leclerc was 0.4s behind the slower of the two Haas cars, piloted by Romain Grosjean.
Sauber's Q3 appearance continued a strong recent run of form and Alonso thinks the Swiss outfit is now in a similar position to Haas in the midfield.
"Our grid position is more or less the same as ever, but it's a very long track and with the aerodynamic deficiencies we have, we knew what kind of problems we could face her, but we completed a tough qualifying in a relatively good position," he said. "We'll start from the clean side of the track with a good chance to score points, as I said.
"Overall I'm happy, we know out limitations, it was the same in Austria as the cars haven't changed, so let's see if we can move forward for Hockenheim, in Hungary too and then, in the second part of the season we know we'll need to improve a few tenths of a second to be up there with Haas and even Sauber, as now they are same level as Haas - so we have three Ferrari on track..."
Alonso, meanwhile, finished 13h for McLaren. The British team has endured a difficult spell in recent weeks, with poor performances triggering the departure of racing director Eric Boullier this week.
Despite failing to get close to making the top-ten shootout, Alonso rated his own performance highly.
"I think this was the limit. I have no doubts today was my best qualifying session of the all year and the best weekend of the season too, because the entire Saturday went really well. It's positive if you consider what our possibilities are, so I'm happy and let's see if tomorrow we can score some points."