Alonso not surprised by qualifying pace

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Brazil, Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagosbr

In front of his home crowd, Felipe Massa posted the fifth fastest time in Q3, while Fernando Alonso was eighth. While this is not the best result for Ferrari in the championship, the team and its drivers know that this is what their car is capable of in qualifying.

The tyre management for the two men was identical: one set of Prime in Q1, when the track was still damp from a light shower before the start, then one of Prime and one Option in Q2, followed by two sets of Option in Q3.

Stefano Domenicali, Team principal:
“It’s definitely not the result we were hoping for this afternoon, but we have seen on so many occasions this season how the outcome of Saturday does not prove conclusive. That has been the case throughout the season and if you add to that the uncertainty regarding the weather, with rain due to play a part, then we should be contenders. This result more or less reflects our season average so alas, we can’t be surprised at the way things went. Now, all we can do is prepare as well as possible for tomorrow, the decisive day of this championship. We know exactly what we have to do: be perfect and ready to make the most of every opportunity. We can promise one thing to our fans, many of who are here packing the grandstands; all of us from first to last will give 120% to reach our objectives: maintaining second place in the Constructors’ classification and above all, getting Fernando to take this Drivers’ title that he deserves more than any other driver out on track.”

Fernando Alonso, chassis 295:
“I’m not surprised at this position, because it’s not as though we can expect a revolution in performance terms in the space of a week. I think I did a good qualifying and, given how the last few races have gone, my chances of making it to the podium are still intact. That will be my objective because I know that, at least under normal circumstances, we are not in with a chance of fighting for the win. I also know that, if I am to have any hopes for the title, it’s more plausible to count on a retirement for Vettel rather than for him to finish in a position where I can get ahead of him in the classification. Obviously, I am therefore hoping for a chaotic race and so the rain could be an important factor even if, in the wet, it is riskier for everyone. The car is not particularly set up for the wet, as it’s not like it used to be. Felipe in front of me? He did a great qualifying, above the norm, so it’s to be expected. It’s almost a miracle to have arrived at the last race still in the fight for the title: under normal circumstances I think we would have said goodbye to our chances back in Monza or Singapore. However, here we are, still in the game and we are definitely not going to surrender today.”

Felipe Massa, chassis 294:
“It was a good qualifying: in Q3 I did a perfect lap, the most I could do with what I had. McLaren and Red Bull are quicker than us, but I am very pleased with the balance of my car. Now we must stay focused on the race, which will be anything but easy. Rain is expected and so anything can happen. In these conditions, just making it to the finish will be an achievement. Surprised at my position? Maybe some people might think I’ve just learned to drive at the age of thirty one, but joking apart, this is a result of the fact that from the mid-season onwards I have found myself ever more comfortable with the car and I have confidence in it to push hard. My approach to this race will be very simple: I will try to do my utmost for my home crowd and for Ferrari. I have a great car, even if it’s not the quickest in qualifying, but it is competitive in the race.”

Pat Fry, Technical director:
“We can’t suddenly expect to find ourselves ahead of Red Bull and McLaren, who have been consistently quicker than us this year in qualifying. We knew we would have to fight for the third row and we managed to get at least one car there thanks to a nice Q3 from Felipe. We did not give Fernando an equally good car in terms of balance and we will have to study the data to see how to improve the situation, within the bounds of possibility, for tomorrow’s race. All the forecasts are predicting rain in the coming hours and there’s a high chance of having a wet race. We will therefore have to be ready to manage a race that looks like being incident packed, as is the tradition in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Yesterday, over a long run we proved to be competitive, from what one can tell on a Friday, but the conditions will be very different, so it’s impossible to make predictions. The task facing us is an arduous one, but we will give it our all!”