Sebastian Vettel denied claims by Lewis Hamilton that the pressure of the title battle affected his qualifying form.
Vettel will start the race fourth, his lowest qualifying position since the Italian Grand Prix in mid-September.
Hamilton said: "You could probably see with Sebastian or at least I saw with him - you could see the pressure's on."
Vettel said he had made a mistake on his first lap in final qualifying, which meant he could not push to the limit on his second.
"No, to be honest," he said when asked if his position was the result of pressure. "I did a mistake in the first run of Q3 but not because this is the last race or whatsoever. I'm pushing and that's what I try to do all the time.
"I did a mistake, lost quite a bit, I went wide, lost momentum and more than half a second was gone.
"The first run wasn't clean, so I thought I had one run left and it was quite important to make sure I get a decent lap.
"It wasn't the lap of my life, I have to admit. There was a little bit more to come. With hindsight I was a little bit shy but if you haven't got a lap in that's what you do.
"If your first run is all pukka, then you might as well drop your pants in the second run and see what you get."
Hamilton, who will start from pole ahead of his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button and Red Bull's Mark Webber, said he did not know whether Alonso's qualifying position was affected in the same way - the Spaniard was eighth fastest, three places and 0.266 seconds behind team-mate Felipe Massa.
The Brazilian out-qualified Alonso for the second race in the row - and only the second time all year apart from the Italian Grand Prix, when Alonso's car had a mechanical failure.
Hamilton said: "I don't know how Fernando's runs were, but there's pressure on both of them, more so on Fernando to try to gain those points back.
"It's so tough. I just heard there are 80 million or whatever Germans watching Sebastian so I know he has a lot of pressure from people around him, but I can't give him any advice - he just has to be as cool as possible and do what he does best."
Vettel starts the final race of the season 13 points ahead of Alonso, who has been promoted to seventh on the grid because of a 10-place penalty for Williams's Pastor Maldonado.
Alonso must finish on the podium to have any chance of overhauling Vettel.
To win the title, Alonso must win with Vettel lower than fourth, be second with Vettel below seventh or be third with the German lower than ninth.
Vettel said he would approach the race like any other this season and try to win.
"We don't come here to finish second, fourth, fifth, 10th," he said.
"We finished fourth in qualifying which is maybe not the best position we could have got but it is not a disaster.
"There are more people behind us than in front.
"I am happy for fourth and there are plenty of opportunities for tomorrow in terms of tactics. The most important thing is we are ready to attack and hungry."