After an early run of fifth places in qualifying, Fernando Alonso seems to have embarked on a new one of fourths. This afternoon, the Spaniard repeated his performance from a week ago at the Catalunya circuit, while Felipe Massa improved, taking sixth place on the grid, making this, overall, the best qualifying session of the season for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.
However, while Fernando’s lap last Saturday was truly exceptional, resulting in a better than expected result, today there was an element of regret as to how things turned out given how free practice and the first two parts of qualifying had gone.
Stefano Domenicali: “First of all, our thoughts are with Sergio Perez, his family and everyone at Sauber. We got a real fright when he crashed into the barriers but, fortunately, we can now breathe a sigh of relief at the news that his condition is not serious. As for the actual qualifying, we cannot deny that, given how things had gone up to the end of Q2, we could have hoped for a bit more. The red flag in the final part of Q3 definitely played a role in the strategy we adopted, putting us in a difficult position as we were unable to properly exploit the second set of option tyres. That’s Monaco and one has to accept that things like this can happen. Tomorrow’s race will very long and full of traps: we must try and make the most of any opportunity. The start will play a crucial role, but above all it will be vital not to make any mistakes. Who makes the least mistakes will emerge as the winner.”
Fernando Alonso: “In qualifying I did not have as good a feeling from the car as I got in free practice and we need to work out exactly why. Today, McLaren were very quick and I think Hamilton was probably favourite to get pole. I don’t think the result of Q3 represents the true order because the red flag mixed up plans for many of the drivers. For Hamilton it went badly, while everything was fine for Red Bull, with us at a halfway point: we should have done two runs of two timed laps each without refuelling and therefore, we did not get the most out of the tyres. I reckon that tomorrow, overtaking will be pretty much impossible, despite the KERS, DRS and whatever else. The start will be very important and our race pace is good, so I hope I can make up some places, also making the most of any unpredictable situations and of our strategy. I expect some drivers will try for two stops and maybe others will risk doing only one. The car is handling better than a week ago at the Catalunya circuit: the balance is fine and the supersofts are working well. Perez’s accident? From inside my car I had no information as to his condition. Frightening accidents like this do make for a bit of tension, but then you try and stay focussed and do your best.”
Felipe Massa: “A misture of satisfaction and regret for me after this qualifying. Along with the team, we managed to improve the handling of the car compared to free practice, reducing the oversteer, but a mistake at Rascasse in Q3 cost me one or two places. A shame, as I was on a good lap. Starting sixth is not brilliant at Monaco but here you need to use your head in the race: we will have to concentrate throughout as anything can happen. The start will be very important, but so too will be staying calm and cool-headed, lap after lap, because any mistake can cost you dear. Tyre degradation is less than we have seen before, so I don’t think there will be so many pit stops. I hope Sergio is okay: it was a frightening accident and the impact was really heavy. That part of the track is very tricky and accidents are very common there.”
Pat Fry: “We were hoping for a better result today because our car had the potential to secure a front row placing. Vettel’s time was not within our reach, but we could have been up there at the front. We opted to do two timed laps on each of the two sets of options available in Q3, but that meant not refuelling in the pits: the red flag complicated matters for us and then, when the session restarted, the conditions did not lend themselves to improving our times. From what we saw in Thursday’s free practice, our race pace is not too bad, so we should be in with a chance. Strategy will be very important: tyre degradation is not very high, therefore I don’t think we will see as many pit stops as we had in the last two races. We will have to do a good job of managing any unpredictable scenarios, to try and make up some places.”