Ferrari comes away from the Korean Grand Prix with 27 points to its name, thanks to a third place for Fernando Alonso and a fourth for Felipe Massa. Today’s was Fernando’s ninth podium finish of the season, the tenth for the team.
Alonso has lost the lead in the Drivers’ classification, but is still just six points off the new leader, while Felipe, thanks to a sixth consecutive points finish (ten this season) has consolidated his ninth place. Six is also the number by which Ferrari now leads the third placed team in the Constructors’ championship, although the leader is a distant 77 away.
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:
“This afternoon’s result was a great team effort and anyone who thinks that losing the lead in the Drivers’ championship might leave us discouraged is making a big mistake. We were well aware it would be a difficult weekend from every point of view. We were able to work very well, trying to make the most of the package we had, while avoiding making the slightest mistake. Fernando drove a great race at a particularly delicate point of the season, in which the stakes are very high: today’s third place is very important for the rest of the championship. He was gritty and at the same time judicious on the opening lap, which we all know is very important in deciding the final race result. Felipe followed up his great race in Suzuka with another one here, also on the attack right from the opening lap and then again at other key moments, like when he overtook Hamilton. His future? As my friend Laura Pausini (Italian pop singer) would say, “Wait and see...”Clearly, at the moment Red Bull might seem unbeatable in everyone’s eyes, but I can remember the same thing being said about McLaren on Sunday afternoon in Singapore: the wheel turns quickly this year...It is equally clear that we must make a step forward in performance to respond to the one made by Red Bull. We are well aware of that and we are working day and night to succeed. There are four races to go at the end of a fantastic and very uncertain season: we will not let up, not even for a second, you can be sure of that!”
Fernando Alonso, 3rd:
“It was a difficult race and, come the end of the weekend, I am happy with the way things went. I was starting from the dirty side of the track, we had doubts over tyre life and what would be the race pace of our rivals. With all these concerns, managing to get to the podium meant I could breathe a big sigh of relief. It’s true that Red Bull was quickest all weekend, but our aim was to be right behind them and we achieved that. It’s also true that I am no longer leading the championship, but being six points down does not mean much, just as it did not mean much being four points up going into this race. It is also very significant that we are back in second place in the Constructors’, as it means the team is on the case and that will be our strong point from now until the end of the season. Being in this position having pretty much skipped two races out of the last four says a lot. There are a hundred points up for grabs and everything will depend on how much we can improve over the coming races. Here we were much closer to the lead than we were in Singapore and nearer than in Suzuka, so we must continue in this direction. Vettel’s three wins in a row? Well, he and Red Bull have had three perfect weekends so congratulations for that, but when everything goes smoothly for so long, inevitably sooner or later something has to happen. We are right in the fight for the title with a car that has never been the fastest. It seems we are capable of doing something good too, don’t you think.”
Felipe Massa, 4th:
“After Suzuka, this was another fantastic race for me. I managed to run at a great pace from start to finish. I expected that to a certain extent, because on Friday, I’d seen that over a long run, the car behaved very well. It’s true that you can never be certain about how things will go in the race, but everything went smoothly. I always managed to get a hundred percent out of the car and I am very pleased about that. It was important to pass Kimi and then Hamilton, because from then on, I was able to run at my pace. Towards the end, I closed on Fernando but attacking him was never even up for discussion: I know how important every single point is in the title fight. The whole team is doing its utmost to help Fernando and I am there for him, just as the team is and as it has been for me when I found myself in the same situation. In this second part of the season, I have probably understood the best way to drive this car on these tyres: now I’m enjoying myself and it’s a pleasure to make the most of everything I’ve got when sitting in the cockpit. Maybe there was also some pressure regarding my future coming into play: but at a certain point I told myself I should not think about it too much anymore and probably this approach helped. Now I feel stronger and when you enjoy what you are doing, it’s the best. In between here and India there’s a lot of work to do to improve the car, especially for qualifying. Let’s hope the updates will give us a little something extra, which could be decisive when it comes to the fight for the title.”
Pat Fry, Technical Director:
“This Korean weekend saw us make the most of what we have right now. That can be seen as a positive in one sense, because it means we did a good job, without any mistakes in any area, from the strategy to the pit stops, from the optimisation of the car to the performance of the drivers. The downside is that doing our best was not enough to be the best, at least this time. That means we have to improve our performance level, especially in qualifying: clearly if you can start further forward you have a better chance of putting other cars under pressure, even if they are faster than us in terms of outright speed. That has to be our main objective over the next few days. Today the way we managed the race lived up to our expectations, with strategy based on tyre degradation. Fernando and Felipe both pitted twice, with Option-Prime-Prime the tyre sequence. We did our best but it was not enough to beat those who started on the front row, while our race pace was clearly superior to the rest of the field. We will have to do our utmost to be as well prepared as possible for the remaining four races in order to give our drivers a car with which they can always be in the fight for the top places. We have lost the lead in the Drivers’ classification but we have moved up one in the Constructors’. There is still everything to play for in this very open and fascinating championship. The hierarchy among the teams changes quickly, first one way then another this year and there is no reason why that cannot happen again now.”