Scuderia Ferrari comes away from the USA Grand Prix with 27 points to its name, thanks to a third place for Fernando Alonso and a fourth for Felipe Massa. This was Fernando’s twelfth podium finish of the season and keeps the championship battle alive until the final GP, next week at Brazil.
Alonso sees the gap between him and the leader now grow to 13 points, while with a ninth consecutive points finish, out of a total thirteen so far this season, Felipe consolidates seventh place. Ferrari’s lead over the third placed team in the Constructors’ classification has been reduced to 14 points, while the leader is 73 ahead.
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:
“Given how things looked yesterday afternoon after qualifying, this result can be seen as positive. Sure, Fernando has lost a few points to the championship leader, but the important thing was to limit the damage so as to arrive at the last race with everything to play for and that is now the case. First and foremost, I want to congratulate Felipe, not just for his great drive in the race, but above for all for the way he went along with our decision to knowingly take a penalty so as to maximize our potential at the start, especially for his team-mate. It was definitely a tough decision, but he took it with the same spirit he has always demonstrated, in that the interests of the team come before those of the individual. Not only did events show it was the right decision, but furthermore we had further confirmation, if it was ever needed, that Felipe is a team player, sincere and honest, who fully shares our values and for that, I want to thank him publicly. Fernando did the most with what he had today, in other words a car that was not capable of fighting for the win. Once again, he produced a stunning opening lap which lined him up for a podium finish. Now we go to Brazil, knowing that everything is still possible. We get there in a completely opposite situation to the one we were in on arrival in Abu Dhabi two years ago…! When you end up fighting for the title at the last race, you have already achieved something important: it has happened to Ferrari many times before – with only three exceptions – since 1997 and no other team can boast of a similar regularity at the top of Formula 1. Today, we congratulate Red Bull on winning the Constructors’ title. Now we will try and stop them doing the double in a week’s time in Interlagos!”
Fernando Alonso, 3rd:
“It was an unexpected podium which came at the end of a particularly difficult weekend. We did not have the pace to match Red Bull and McLaren, so to only lose three points to Vettel is in fact a nice present. It could have been much worse, but now we will arrive in Sao Paolo in Brazil in with a chance right to the last. Maybe on paper that chance is not so big, maybe 25%, but deep down, I feel it’s much more than that. Anything can happen at Interlagos and we saw again how important reliability can be, didn’t we? Then, there’s the chance of rain and a race in the wet can be very risky and we definitely have nothing to lose. Clearly, if it’s dry and we have a normal race, one can expect Red Bull to be in front of everyone and us on the third or fourth row, so the more unknown factors there are, the better it is for us. The decision regarding Felipe’s gearbox? It was a team decision of which I am proud, especially as it proved to be the right one: I don’t think everyone in this environment can say the same thing… The start was very good as was the first corner: in this second part of the season, we have made up a lot of places actually in the first few hundred metres. Then I had a good enough pace to get on the podium but not to fight with the two in front. The pit stop wasn’t perfect, maybe for the first time this season: which means we’ll be looking for perfection in the pit stops next Sunday, and in fact for the whole race! Felipe was fantastic all weekend, quicker than me in all three qualifying sessions: we need him to be on this good form in Interlagos too, because we will be up against very strong opposition. We need to be a united team if we want to win!”
Felipe Massa, 4th:
“For me, this result is a bit like a win, definitely the best race of my season: now I can say I’m happy to have started eleventh! This morning, when I was told I was dropping five places, I can’t say I was jumping for joy, but I accepted it to help the team and my team-mate: I don’t think many drivers would have done the same, but I am an honest person and will always do my utmost for my team. At the start, I made up three places, but then I ran wide and lost a few. After that, I had a strong pace and also pulled off some passing moves at various points on the track: once I even got two cars at the same time. We did the best we could have done today: I don’t think I could have fought Vettel or Hamilton. I really enjoyed driving on this track: it is great fun and the atmosphere is very nice. It’s probably not going to be my favourite circuit of all, but it is one of the ones I like. Now we go to Interlagos, my home race. It would be nice to end the season on the podium, or even with a win. What’s certain is that I will do everything I can to help the team reach its targets: today, maybe I could have finished ahead of Fernando, but I’m well aware of the championship situation and I do what is right for Ferrari, as I’ve done throughout my career.”
Pat Fry, Technical director: “We achieved our objective, which means keeping the Drivers’ championship alive to the end. This morning we decided to take a penalty that goes with changing a gearbox, which resulted in Felipe dropping five places on the grid, but meant both drivers started from the clean side of the track, an important factor, given Fernando is fighting for the Drivers’ title. We expected this to produce an advantage for the Spaniard and a more or less similar outcome for the Brazilian and as things turned out, if you look at the order after the first corner, we were right. Once again, Fernando covered the first few hundred metres of the race in extraordinary fashion and from then on, he produced a great performance, profiting from Webber’s retirement to make it to the podium for the umpteenth time in this amazing season. He did not have a car capable of fighting for the win, so to be third is the most we could aspire to in these conditions. Once again, Felipe showed great team spirit when it came to the decision that penalised him. He then drove a great race, climbing up from eleventh to fourth, pulling off some nice passing moves on the way. The main problem this weekend was definitely managing the tyre temperatures: once again today we suffered in the early laps after the pit stop much more than our competitors. We must study the data carefully to understand exactly what are the reasons for this, also because in Brazil, in less than a week, we will once again be running these compounds. It’s true the Interlagos circuit is very different and that so too will be the ambient temperatures, but we must arrive in Sao Paolo as well prepared as possible. The Drivers’ title and second place in the Constructors’ classification will be fought out to the very last corner that’s for sure.”