One driver, Fernando Alonso in ninth place and the other, Felipe Massa, in twelfth: that was the outcome of qualifying for Scuderia Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the second round of this season’s Formula 1 World Championship.
Stefano Domenicali: “We should regard this result as a glass half full. We know that we are in difficulty in this early part of the season, therefore we have to look at limiting the damage on track, while working to make the F2012 more competitive in as short a time as possible. All of us and our fans would like to see our drivers always in the fight for pole position, but if we do not have the potential to do so, then we have to do the best we can. Once again today, Fernando did a great job and it’s a shame that he had a KERS problem, the first in a long time, which prevented him from doing a much better time on a track where this system delivers a significant benefit. Felipe has made a step in the right direction: finally the car he had in qualifying was reasonably balanced and that could also be seen on the clock. Now we must concentrate on the race and try to bring home as many points as we can. We saw in Melbourne that over a long distance the difference between the front runners is less marked than in qualifying. Let’s see how tomorrow goes in a race that looks like being very tough on the cars, drivers and teams, who have to operate here in rather unique conditions.”
Fernando Alonso: “It was a good qualifying, because I think we got everything we could out of the car. I had a KERS problem on my only run in Q3, but I don’t think it cost me any places, but it would definitely have made the gap to pole look more realistic. If it was to rain, it will take a lot of luck to pinpoint the right moment to change tyres: it only takes a little to drop a dozen seconds or so and we will need total concentration to get everything right. A dry race will require just as much concentration to maximise the performance of the car and tyres which, at this track, degrade a lot. We must try and bring home points that could be significant for the championship. The start and the first corner will be complicated, because so much is at stake then. We know we have a lot of work to do, especially on the aerodynamics of the car. Here, the performance is slightly better than in Australia, which proves we are working in the right direction, but obviously we must move on in leaps and bounds if we want to fight for the front rows. A new car in Barcelona? No, there’s no truth in that. Clearly we are pushing a lot on car development, which is as it should be, but in a consistent fashion with no revolutionary changes. At the moment, this car has many problems, but as a result, it also has a big margin for improvement.”
Felipe Massa: “Clearly, I can’t be happy with twelfth place, but we know that, at the moment, we do not have a very competitive car: getting through to Q3 is very difficult and today I could only get close to this target. Yesterday and today in FP3, I was not satisfied with the balance of the car, but we managed to improve it for qualifying, which leaves me feeling confident for the race and for the future. I think we have begun to get a better understanding of how this F2012 works and that is positive. Tomorrow will be a very hard race, where tyre degradation will make itself felt and there will also be the threat of rain hanging over it. I hope I can get a better result than this twelfth place. Pressure? It comes from own will to always do the maximum and when I don’t manage it, I am the first to be unhappy.”
Pat Fry: “Honestly it’s hard to see how we could have secured a different result to this one, given the potential available to us. We had a KERS problem right in the final stages of the session, when Fernando set out for his last timed lap in Q3. That cost him a few tenths, but I don’t think that without it he would have got a different position on the grid. As usual, the Spanish driver squeezed every drop of performance out of the F2012. Felipe finally had a better balanced car and made good progress compared to the previous sessions and that was also down to the work the entire team tackled with him. We can expect a very tough race: the aim is to get both drivers home in the points. The start will be a very important moment, while tyre degradation will be one of the key factors and will have a significant effect on strategy. Then there’s the unknown factor relating to the weather: so far, the rain has only put in a brief appearance in FP3, but we are well aware that storms can arrive at any moment: we have to ensure we are ready to exploit every opportunity that might present itself.”