Top three teams are in a league of their own, says Alonso

Barcelona (AFP) –


Local hero Fernando Alonso produced his best qualifying showing of the season in front of his home fans on Saturday, but warned that F1's top six are in another league.

The two-time world champion qualified eighth in his Renault-powered McLaren for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix ?- but wound up more than 1.5 seconds off the record-breaking pace set by pole-sitter and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso praised his team for the step forward they made with an upgraded package of new parts.

"It was a good quali' so I'm very happy, without a doubt," said the Spaniard.

"We had been P13 three times in a row and today we took that step forward we needed.

"I'm happy with this step forward. Now we need another to get close to the top teams...

"At least the positive note is that everything we brought for the car works as expected. Now we need to bring more things as quickly as possible.

"The downside of this position is probably still the gap, with the top six -- they are in another league and we need to keep chasing and closing that gap race after race."

He added that he had hoped to have had a similarly competitive car from the start of the season.

"This package is making me happy, but in another way, this car, is supposed to be the Australian Grand Prix package -- that delay, on the first improvement, and not having it at the first races, but having it here, has probably put us in a difficult position in the first races.

"We saved them with a lot of points on Sundays with a little bit of luck and good races, but now we need to push the development and we need new parts every single race."