Fourth and seventh places respectively for Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa: that was the outcome of the first race of the 2011 season, the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.
Stefano Domenicali: “There is no point in denying that we leave Australia with a sense of disappointment. Again today, our performance level was not a match for that of the best, especially one of the Red Bulls. Nevertheless, we managed to pick up some valuable points, especially with Fernando, who drove a great race, recovering from what happened to him on the first lap. Having made a strong start, Felipe first defended himself with real determination against attacks from Button, but then in the second part of the race he suffered more than expected with overheating rear tyres. Now we will have to study everything carefully to work out what prevented us from being as competitive as we had expected this weekend. Then we will have to react immediately, starting with the next race in Malaysia. One of the main themes is the level of downforce at the front: we must find out why we did not get on track what was predicted by the data. One of the few bright points was reliability, especially on the engine side and with the KERS.”
Fernando Alonso: “If you just look at the classification, this is not such a bad result; yes we have lost ground to Vettel and Hamilton, although we have done better than Webber and Button. Here at Albert Park, it seems that I have a season ticket for fourth place, as it’s the third time in four years that I’ve finished the race in this position. Last year, we came here off the back of the win in Bahrain, which means that the same result then had a very different feel to it. Once again today, Vettel seemed to be on another planet, while the others were a bit closer, not to the extent they were on Friday, but at least not as far off as in qualifying yesterday. Finishing behind Petrov again like in Abu Dhabi? True, but it’s a coincidence and then, at this stage it is more satisfying to have managed to keep Webber behind me, who I reckon will be a more serious rival in the title fight than the Russian. KERS worked well as did the moveable rear wing, although it did not make the overtaking moves that easy. At the start there was a bit of confusion: I got away well, but then Button headed for me and I had to go wide to avoid a collision. The strategy was just right and it helped me to make up some places. Maybe if I hadn’t ended up immediately in traffic, I could have tried to go for two stops but given how things went, we made the best decision. We are in the right zone for us to be able to win a title, but definitely not if we keep finishing third or fourth. We have to improve, we know that, but it’s still too early to make any predictions.”
Felipe Massa: “At the start things got off on the right foot with a nice start and good defending from Button’s attacking moves. Then we tried to bring forward the use of the hard tyres, but that move did not pay off and we had to make the third stop towards the end, which lost me a few places. In the second part, I suffered a lot with degradation on the rear tyres and I could not keep up a good pace. New elements such as the rear wing worked as they should: we definitely saw more overtaking than last year. The duel with Button? It was very tight: when he passed me, cutting the chicane, I expected him to be penalised. I am a bit disappointed with the result and the overall performance this weekend. We have to get down to work to understand fully what happened, because I think we have not shown our true potential.”
Pat Fry: “We have a lot of work ahead of us, that’s for sure. This weekend, the 150° Italia was not as competitive as we would have liked and that’s a fact: both in the race and in qualifying, Red Bull and McLaren were quicker than us. In terms of how we managed our strategy, I think that with Fernando we made the right choices, given what happened on the opening lap, when he found himself back in ninth place. Thanks to the pit stops and some good passing moves, the Spaniard managed to move up the order to fourth and he was fighting for a podium finish right up to the final lap. However, with Felipe we probably made a mistake towards the end, which cost him maybe one place. Now we all have to roll our sleeves up, at the track and back home, to try and arrive in Malaysia in better shape.”