Alonso dedicates pole to De Villota

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Great Britain, Silverstone Circuitgb

First pole of the season for Scuderia Ferrari, courtesy of Fernando Alonso, at the end of an extremely long qualifying session. Rain was the main factor today, causing an interruption of over an hour, when there was just over six minutes left to the end of Q2.

A positive day for the Scuderia was completed by a fifth place for Felipe Massa, the Brazilian’s best performance of the season. This is pole number 206 for Ferrari, the fifteenth at this Grand Prix and it ends a drought that goes all the way back to Singapore 2010. For Fernando, it was his twenty first number one slot in qualifying, the third at the wheel of a Maranello built car.

Stefano Domenicali, Team principal:
“The points are only given out on Sunday and we always keep that in mind…Obviously, we are happy today because it’s been a long time, too long, that we have not had one of our drivers on pole position, but we must not get carried away now, quite the contrary. We must concentrate even more on our work because, once again, this afternoon, we saw how things can change literally from one minute to the next. Fernando was extraordinary and Felipe also did a great job: it’s our best qualifying of the year and we must try and make the most of it in tomorrow’s race. The weather forecast is rather uncertain, so we will have to be on high alert, ready to react to the slightest change. So many times this year, we have seen that grid positions have not proved decisive when it comes to the final result: let’s hope that, tomorrow at least, it will play an important role.”

Fernando Alonso, P1:
“First of all I want to dedicate this pole to Maria de Villota, who is going through a particularly difficult time. We are all feeling sad these days and our thoughts are with her and her family. Pole was a surprise, because in conditions like these, you never know what can happen. This morning, in the dry, the car was very good, but in the wet it could all be different, even if the F2012 has shown that’s it’s not bad in the rain, if one thinks of Malaysia and the Mugello test. This afternoon, one had to be in the right place at the right time on the right tyres and, to succeed in that, you also needed a bit of luck. For once it came our way, as with the spin at the start of Q2 and when I managed to get through into Q3 by a hair’s breadth after the interruption: in the end, I had a car ahead of me and the visibility was really poor and then there were yellow flags at the last corner, but in the end I managed to get through to the next stage. Today’s pole is important, even if we know it came to us in unusual conditions. We still need to get one in the dry to be able to say we have closed the gap to the best. I’m hoping for a boring race tomorrow, given that for once I’m starting in front of everyone.”

Felipe Massa, P5:
“It’s a nice result for the team, mainly because, when the red flag came out, both myself and Fernando were out of Q3. We did a good job at the restart in the last few laps of Q2 and then, in Q3 we were always in the fight for pole position, but I was losing time right at the very last corner, as I was locking the rear wheels. All the same, I am pleased with fifth place. I think I will be competitive tomorrow, especially as the car is going well on this type of track. From Canada onwards, the F2012 has improved a lot and the results are clear to see. I think that the stoppage in Q2 was the right decision, even if it could have maybe come a bit sooner: it was incredible how much aquaplaning there was on the main straight at that time. Then Race Control did a great job in making sure the track was in a practicable condition, which meant the spectators were able to see a spectacle that must have lived up to their enthusiasm. For we drivers, the break was boring, but for everyone in the grandstands, it was even worse, given how hard the rain was falling!”

Pat Fry, Technical director:
“It was a long and tense session. The final outcome is really great because we have not been on pole for a long time, but there was a long period, after the red flag, during which we feared the worse. It goes to show how, especially in such an evenly matched season as this one, in Formula 1 things can change very quickly. Both our drivers did a great job in very difficult driving conditions. It’s pointless discussing if we managed things as well as we could: we will calmly analyse the evolution of the three sessions to see where we need to improve. However, now we must only think about tomorrow’s race, which looks like being very unpredictable from every point of view, starting with the weather. This morning, in the dry, we saw that the F2012 is reasonably competitive, but also that the opposition is very strong. We will try and do our best, as usual. Clearly, when defining the strategies and how they will evolve during the race, the weather will play a key role.”