Ferrari targets podium despite complicated qualifying

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Sixth and seventh places for the F2012s on the starting grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix: that was the outcome of this afternoon’s qualifying, with Fernando Alonso ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa, by just 54 hundredths of a second.

The usage of the Pirelli tyres was identical for both Prancing Horse men: one set of Medium and one Soft in Q1, a run on used Softs and another on new ones in Q2 and, at the end, a single lap on the third and final set of the Option compound available.

Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:
“No surprises this afternoon in qualifying. We were well aware that we still do not have the quickest car in terms of outright performance, something we have said so often these past weeks. And we know just how little it takes to miss the cut to the next session when there are so many cars up against one another, all separated by just a few tenths. We managed to get both Fernando and Felipe into Q3 where they secured positions that are nevertheless not too bad in terms of the championship, given that the opponent currently posing the biggest threat to Fernando will start behind us. Furthermore, I would say again today what I said for the past two Saturdays, even though the results then were different and that is, the points are given out only on Sunday after the race and not on Saturday. We can expect a very difficult and demanding race tomorrow, on a track that does not allow the driver to get distracted for a moment and is also very tough on the cars. There’s a degree of uncertainty relating to the weather forecast, which also needs to be taken into account. As always, we will try and do the best we can.”

Fernando Alonso, 6th, chassis 296:
“We were expecting a very difficult qualifying and so it was. We saw at least eight cars – two McLarens, two Force Indias, two Red Bulls and Lotus, running very competitively and therefore, just getting to Q3 was in itself a difficult target to reach. We did it and we also managed to slightly improve the handling of the car in the final part, working on the tyre pressures and the front wing. We definitely didn’t get a perfect lap: we lost a handful of tenths in a few corners. The wind was stronger than this morning and I think that took everyone a bit by surprise. All things considered, sixth place is not to be sneered at, far from it. It’s true that overtaking is definitely not easy here, but tomorrow, it might yet rain and we know that can change everything. Furthermore there’s the unknown factor regarding the behaviour of the tyres, because yesterday no one here was able to really try them over a long run. We will have to be super concentrated, especially in how we manage the tyres. In the dry, we are not yet able to fight for the very top places, and we are well aware of that. Usually, in the race, the situation improves and so we hope we can finish in the top four or five when it’s time for the chequered flag. Our aim will be to mark our closest rival in the Drivers’ classification and today we know we will be starting ahead of him. Let’s see what the situation will be tomorrow evening.”

Felipe Massa, 7th, chassis 294:
“Not an easy qualifying for the team. Both Fernando and myself struggled to put together a perfect lap, which can be seen from the fact we were quicker in Q2 than Q3. A shame, because in Q2, I had done a good time and I was expecting to improve still further, but unfortunately, I was slower: I suddenly had less grip and a lot of oversteer, so now we must find out why. It will be very hot tomorrow and it could also rain, so we will need to be on top of whatever situation arises. We will need to study carefully the little data we have relating to tyre behaviour: from the little we could see, there is a definite degradation with the Softs, which could make itself felt even more with a full fuel load. We will have to wait and see how things turn out in what will be a long race tomorrow, but I think we are still in with a chance of fighting for a podium finish, even if we are up against very strong opposition. The Hungaroring has been the scene of several important moments in my career, starting with the cruel blow of heading for certain victory in 2008 only to be robbed of it by an engine failure, followed a year later by my accident. So many people here have remained close to me and continue to support me, so I am doubly disappointed, as I wanted to reward them with a great result this afternoon. We’ll try and do it tomorrow!”

Pat Fry, Technical director:
“It was a very complicated and difficult qualifying, which is actually what we were expecting. Right from Q1, Fernando struggled a bit on his first set of Mediums, but we managed to recover from that. The fight to get into Q3 was very tight and it was important to get both Felipe and Fernando into the final part of the session, even if we got there having only one set of new Softs left, which was actually the case for all bar one of the other runners. We were not able to improve our times here, in fact we were slower by over two tenths with both drivers. The main problem this afternoon was putting together the ideal lap. Tomorrow we will find ourselves in a similar situation to the one we saw in the last two races, given that because of the weather, it was not possible to properly assess the tyres over a long run. We will have to rely totally on the predictions and on watching what happens as the race evolves. Another factor could be the rain, which might play its part. We said it before, that on all levels, we don’t have the quickest car and there is still a lot of work to do to reach that target. That’s why we can’t claim to be disappointed today: the numbers never lie.”