Ferrari aware they could not expect more today

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Singapore, Marina Bay Street Circuitsg

For the thirteenth time since he joined Ferrari, Fernando Alonso has qualified fifth for a Grand Prix, the second time in a row at this circuit. Fernando was also fifth in Q2, the part of the session that saw his team-mate Felipe Massa eliminated with the thirteenth fastest time.

In Q1, the Ferraris were tenth (Fernando) and sixteenth (Felipe). Their tyre useage was identical in the first two sessions: one set of Soft in Q1 and two Supersoft in Q2.

Stefano Domenicali, Team principal: “We knew our performance level would not let us fight for the very top places on the grid, but nevertheless, Fernando’s fifth place is a good starting point for tomorrow’s race. Our driver got the most out of the car, which definitely does not come as a surprise. Sure, the gap to pole is significant, but in terms of distance in metres on the grid, it changes nothing if the gap is a hundredth or a whole second. Felipe struggled more than his team-mate, as was also the case yesterday, especially in terms of tyre performance. Indeed, tyres will be one of the crucial factors for tomorrow’s race, given that we can expect a high level of degradation. Fernando is in with a chance of getting to the podium, while Felipe can aim for the top ten. It will be a very hard race for everyone: men and machines will be subjected to incredible stresses and anything can happen over the course of two hours. We will have to stay fully concentrated and make the most of every opportunity.”

Fernando Alonso, 5th:
“Today, pole position was absolutely out of our grasp: Hamilton was on another planet... We must settle for this fifth place but that doesn’t mean we are not hoping to improve on it tomorrow: our target is the podium. The result pretty much matches what we expected after yesterday, given that right from the afternoon we were not particularly brilliant. The only surprise this evening was Maldonaldo and it was really unexpected to see him on the front row. Here, the performance difference between the two compounds is probably the highest of the whole championship; between one and a half and two seconds, which could be an important factor tomorrow also. It’s true the Softs can last longer but it’s also true that, with such a significant difference, the Supersofts could also be an interesting option. I expect a lot of pit stops, specifically because of the tyre degradation. Honestly, before arriving in Singapore, I expected more, but we soon realised we would be tackling this Grand Prix on the defensive. The race will be very long, very hard physically and mentally, because you need to always concentrate to the maximum, with no margin for error: the slightest mistake can carry a high price on a track where the barriers are very close. Reliability will be very important and the number one priority will be getting to the finish in the best possible position.”

Felipe Massa, 13th:
“It was a very difficult qualifying. I really struggled to put together a good lap, suffering particularly in the final sector, where the rear tyres were sliding and, as a result, were degrading. It’s a problem I’ve had since yesterday and we did not manage to fix it. Let’s hope we can do something for the race, otherwise it will be really hard. We must look carefully at the strategy, starting with which tyre to use for the start of the race: there’s a lot of difference in speed between the two compounds, but both seem to degrade significantly. The aim will be to finish the race in the points, which definitely won’t be easy, but we’ll give it our best shot. Not all the updates we brought here worked as we had expected and hoped for, which certainly hasn’t helped. So we must understand why with a view to the rest of the season.”

Pat Fry, Technical director:
“Honestly, it would have been difficult to expect more from this qualifying. Of all the updates we brought here, the only one we did not use was the rear wing, which still needs more development: that means we must improve still further the quality of our work if we want to meet our targets. Clearly, the circuit characteristics alone are not enough to explain the difference in performance between us and those who have been quickest in this part of the season, between Monza and Singapore: today we saw a driver-car combination that was absolutely out of reach. We managed to improve the handling of the F2012, but not enough to get Felipe into a position from which he could make the most of the potential he had: unfortunately for him, thirteenth place on the grid means he is in a particularly difficult position for tomorrow’s race. A lot of factors will affect the final outcome of this weekend, starting with tyre behaviour over a long distance. Last year, we struggled a lot in this race and we tried to prepare for it differently this year, even if it’s never easy to find the right compromise in set-up between the single lap and a long run. Other elements to consider will be reliability and strategy. This race is very tough on machinery and the high temperatures definitely don’t help. Then we have the unknown factor of the Safety Car that has always featured in this Grand Prix. To sum up, there are a lot of variable to consider when aiming for a useful result for both championships.”