Fernando Alonso is expecting a more difficult weekend than usual in Brazil despite setting the fourth fastest time in Friday practice.

12870 - Alonso preparing for tough weekend

The Ferrari driver has finished on the podium at the last two races, but struggled to find a balance at Interlagos on Friday and is not expecting to match the pace of Red Bulls and McLarens this weekend.

"Honestly, at least looking at what we saw today, I think that in the dry we are a bit less competitive than usual: I don't think I can fight with the Red Bulls and McLarens and, on top of that, one of the Mercedes is very quick," he said. "However, there's a very high chance of rain, so anything could happen. If I could choose today, I would opt for a wet race because, in normal conditions, we can only expect a fifth place in qualifying and to fight for a podium place in the race."

He added: "It was not an easy day, because we have still not managed to find the right balance on the car. Therefore, we must wait and see if and by how much we manage to improve its handling and therefore, how competitive we can be in tomorrow afternoon's qualifying session. In particular, I am not happy with the rear end of the car."

Alonso pulled off the circuit at the end of the first practice session but said it did not affect his programme too much.

"These things happen and it did not cost me much time, less than I lost on Friday in India," he said. "We will have to wait for the engine to arrive in Maranello, where it will be opened up and the engineers will be able to get a better idea of what the nature of the problem was. This won't cause any problems for qualifying and the race, when we will fit another one."