Ferrari reasonably plased after close Korean qualifying

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F1 Grand Prix, GP South Korea, Korean International Circuitkr

One car on the second row and the other on the third: this was the outcome of qualifying for the first ever Korean Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, with Fernando Alonso in third place and Felipe Massa sixth.

“It was a very closely contested session, with closer gaps than usual,” commented Stefano Domenicali. “We did our utmost and we can say that, overall, we are reasonably pleased with this result, even our aim is always to try and be in front of everyone. In Q3, Fernando produced two great laps: it would have been hard to do better and it is very important that he has avoided starting from the dirty side of the grid. Felipe is back on great form this weekend: it’s a shame that for his only run on new soft tyres in Q3, he was not able to show all the potential demonstrated in Q2, but I firmly believe he can have a good race tomorrow. And that’s the day that matters, when the points are given out. On a track one knows, the usual parameters apply – the start, reliability, strategy, the work of the team and the drivers – on a completely new one like Yeongam, there will also be the unknown factor of how the track will evolve, as well as how that might be affected by the rain forecast for tonight. All we can do is concentrate on our job and do our best in a race which looks like being very unpredictable.”

Fernando Alonso: “I am satisfied with how things went in qualifying and I think I showed all the potential of our car. In Q1, I felt that we could be really competitive, which was then reinforced in Q2 and Q3. Then, with pole having escaped me, I think that it is better to be third rather than second, because starting from the dirty side would be very difficult. We expected Red Bull to be very strong, as it’s not by chance they have taken fourteen poles from seventeen attempts this year. However, the gap is pretty close, which shows that tomorrow we can be in the fight. We must get a good start without taking too many risks at the first corner, because in the race, anything could happen and the most important thing will be to get to the chequered flag. In theory there are a couple of places where overtaking seems possible, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see if that is really the case. Tyre degradation seems higher than at other tracks, so we will need to do a good job in managing them and in terms of the strategy: the softs give more grip while with the hards, we are all struggling to make them work at their best. Maybe it will be a case of doing more than one pit stop. On top of that, there is the unknown factor linked to the weather. The situation is definitely better than in Suzuka: the gap to the Red Bulls is smaller and we have kept strong rivals like Hamilton and Kubica behind us.”

Felipe Massa: “I am not happy, especially because sixth place means I have to start on the less clean side of the grid, which is a major handicap on a surface as dirty as this one. I was very pleased at the end of Q2, because the car was more competitive than yesterday and I thought I could fight for a top place. Unfortunately, I had a bit of traffic on the only run I did in Q3 on my last set of new soft tyres: a shame because the car was going well, but I was not able to get the most out of it. The situation in terms of grip has improved, even with the harder tyres and I expect that trend to continue tomorrow. I am expecting to have a very tough race. It it was to rain it could be even more slippery than usual, given the condition of the track surface.”

Chris Dyer: “We had another day with no technical problems on either car, which is always positive. Qualifying was a bit different to usual, especially because the difference in performance between the two types of tyre Bridgestone has brought here is greater, which made the decision on how to manage the sets of tyres during the various parts of the session less obvious. After a couple of Grands Prix where this part of the weekend has been difficult for us, here we managed to get both cars into Q3 and with Fernando, we just missed out on pole. As we have seen so often this season, our main rivals managed to find something right at the last in order to get ahead of us. Tomorrow, we can expect a very unusual start, because getting away from the clean side will, in theory, produce a significant advantage: therefore, for Fernando it was better to be third rather than second, while unfortunately Felipe will start from the dirty side. I am expecting a very interesting race, where the tyre performance over a long run will heavily affect the outcome. So far, both the hards and the softs have presented us with problems and the track conditions could change still more. Then again, if it was to rain tonight, as predicted, everything could go back to zero again.”