Shanghai: Ferrari's Fernando Alonso admitted it was another "difficult" session on Saturday as his cumbersome F2012 disappointed once more -- this time in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

The two-time world champion has made no secret of his much-maligned car's limitations, which Ferrari felt were even more exposed by the long straights at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Alonso will start Sunday's race in ninth, while team-mate Felipe Massa was 12th fastest.

"We knew this would be difficult qualifying and that's how it turned out," said Spaniard Alonso.

"The car is what it is and the improvements we brought here are not enough to produce a jump in performance, and so this position corresponds more or less to our current potential.

"Sure, we cannot be happy to be a second off pole position, but all we can do is work to try to close this gap."

Alonso has said that his best hope of building on his victory in the last grand prix, in the wet of Malaysia, could be rain.

But Ferrari technical director Pat Fry said: "No rain is forecast for the afternoon (Sunday), therefore it will be difficult to repeat the amazing result from Sepang.

"But all the same, we must always be ready to exploit every opportunity, which is the norm with a team that does not have the most competitive package in the field."