Ferrari carefully evaluates practice results

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F1 Grand Prix, GP South Korea, Korean International Circuitkr

Formula 1 made its debut in the Republic of Korea with a busy day of free practice, during which the track conditions evolved constantly as more rubber went down. Between them, the two F10s of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso completed a total of 108 laps.

“First of all, I wish to congratulate the organisers for all the work completed in order that this Grand Prix could take place,” commented Stefano Domenicali. “This country is investing a lot in its development and that is an important indication for the future. As for the track, obviously today’s conditions were unique, with a very dirty surface and a grip level that changed with every passing lap. Therefore today’s results have to be evaluated very carefully: what is certain is that qualifying will be very difficult and the race will be hard to predict, especially as it seems likely that it could rain.”

Fernando Alonso: “This track is nice to drive, very interesting with three sectors each different to the other. In the first one, you need a very good top speed, in the second there are fast corners, with the third one featuring slow turns: it will therefore be interesting to see what set-up choices the various teams will make for qualifying and the race. I like the part from Turn 4 to Turn 6, with very different lines and the possibility to overtake: it reminds me of the final sector of the Istanbul track. At the moment there is nothing particularly negative to flag up, apart from the fact the tyres wear rapidly, as in fact one could predict on a completely new track surface: it’s not worth worrying about it, because the situation will have improved by Sunday and also, we are more or less all in the same situation. As usual the Red Bulls seem very competitive and the McLarens appear to be very strong here: in fact, Hamilton qualified third in Suzuka and I reckon he is one of the favourites to win this Grand Prix. However, I think the situation is different to that in Japan, where the championship leaders were clearly the favourites: here, we and McLaren could do something interesting. Various parameters make it difficult to make the right choices for the rest of the weekend: the evolution of the track which could even change the gear choice in key corners, the level of aerodynamic downforce and the possibility of rain on Sunday. Obviously, being a brand new track, we have nothing to base our decisions on: it will therefore team work will be even more important than usual.”

Felipe Massa: “I like this track. It is very long with all sorts of corners, with some sections resembling traditional circuits, while others are like a street track. Turn 11 is complicated as there are practically two corners in one and immediately after that there is a change of direction. I struggled a bit to find a good set-up, especially getting the tyres to work the right way as they were deteriorating quickly. The situation will continue to evolve as the track gets more and more rubbered in. The grip level changed continually, so it is difficult to judge where we are exactly when compared to the others, but the general feeling is that we can be competitive. I tried the car without the blown rear wing in the morning, but clearly you need to use it here: it gives you a good edge on the straights compared to the standard one. I also had some oversteer, but I think that is normal in these conditions: there is plenty of room to improve the settings on the car and work on this area. It was good that we were able to run this track on the simulator as in reality we found that the reference points matched those seen in Maranello.”

Chris Dyer: “It was quite a positive day, with both drivers completing their planned programme without any particular technical problems. It is very difficult to evaluate the results, because the condition of the completely new asphalt changed continuously as it got more rubbered in and cleaned itself up. It is complicated to find the right balance on the car, because the track is very different from one sector to the next, but in the end, both Felipe and Fernando were reasonably pleased. There is definitely much to do, especially to improve stability in the final sector, where today the cars were sliding around quite considerably. As for the tyres, the hards are a bit difficult to manage because the grip level is very low, while the softs work well on the first lap: over a long run the situation is more complicated, but that is the challenge we have had to face at every Grand Prix this year. The track is very interesting and demanding for the drivers: we have seen a lot of them finding the limit today. I expect to see a spectacular race, especially as there are a few places where overtaking seems possible.”