Ferrari suffered as expected through qualifying today with Felipe Massa posting the 8th fastest time and Fernando Alonso narrowly missing Q3 by setting the 11th best time. The team have been lacking pace since the start of the weekend, knowing that the characteristics of the track expose the weaknesses of the Ferrari F138.
Fernando Alonso, 11th: “This qualifying has been as difficult as the rest of the weekend, even if in some races, starting eleventh on new tyres can help, so let’s hope that’s the case here. It is without a doubt better to make it through to Q3 but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a very clean lap and I didn’t manage to make it by a few tenths. This is one of the tracks where we suffer a bit more than usual, but in general our Sunday performance is better and so, again this time, our approach to the race is positive. We must absolutely get a good start, stay focussed and run a perfect race if we want to take points towards our aim of finishing second in the Constructors’, because it will be a tough fight. We have seen that in the heat, the Softs work better than the Mediums and so logic dictates we should start on the softer tyre while it’s still daytime and switch to Mediums when darkness falls. Clearly, we have to see how things go”.
Felipe Massa, 8th: “I am pleased with my qualifying and things went better than I’d expected. All weekend, we haven’t been competitive enough and after this morning’s free practice, I was worried I wouldn’t make it to Q3, but then, thanks to a lap where I got the maximum out of the car, combined with the drop in temperature, I managed to make up a few places. Today I did all I could and I think that without a bit of oversteer at the final corner, I could have done even better. This track does not suit our car, as you need good traction and the high temperature doesn’t help either, but the race is run in the evening and I hope that will allow us to bring home those important points we need right now, even if it’s definitely not going to be easy”.
Pat Fry, Director of Engineering: “Right from the start of the weekend, we have struggled to be competitive at this track and the outcome of qualifying reflects the hierarchy through the field that we have seen since the start. Even though we worked a lot on improving the balance of both cars, we continued to suffer from a lack of grip, especially in the third sector where our rivals make the difference. In the first two sectors, we do not have any particular difficulties and we can maintain split times that are not far off those of the best, but in the final sector the gap gets bigger which has badly effected the overall lap time. When the temperature dropped, we managed to make the tyres work better, which meant the car was more reactive, even if it was not enough to allow our drivers to secure better positions. Tomorrow, we will face a very difficult race, in which it will be vital to avoid traffic in the first stint as much as possible and so we are banking on a clean start. We will have to do everything perfectly if we want to help our drivers in their quest to bring home as many points as possible”.