Only two points to its name for Scuderia Ferrari come the end of the Chinese Grand Prix, brought home by Fernando Alonso, who finished the race in ninth place, while Felipe Massa was classified thirteenth. It is without a doubt a disappointing result, which came at the end of a race where the two drivers were practically always in traffic. After the third Grand Prix of the season, Fernando finds himself third in the Drivers’ classification, eight points off the leader, while Felipe is still on a blank score sheet. The Scuderia remains third in the Constructors’ championship.
Fernando Alonso: “We knew this would be a difficult race and that’s how it turned out. We were always in traffic, without an opportunity to exploit the car’s potential and when you are behind other cars, the tyres get worn much more easily. Choosing to do three stops clearly meant we would be forced to do some overtaking, but with the top speed we had, it turned out to be almost impossible on the main straight, so I had to invent some overtaking moves at other points on the track, where I could make better use of the car. Obviously, this does not leave me very optimistic for Bahrain, on a track where traction and speed are vital, exactly the areas where we are weakest”.
“Once again next week it will be mainly a case of damage limitation. I don’t want to think of the classification because the priority is to improve the performance of the F2012. This does not mean however, that I have lost hope, quite the contrary. Last year, we believed all the way to Spa and there’s no reason not to at the moment, when we are third in the classification, just eight points off the leader. Sure, we definitely need to make a good step forward to make the car quicker. In Spain we will have major updates but so will the others and so it’s not that I’m expecting a miracle of going one second quicker than the others.”
The circuit, the country and the weather might change, but the result of qualifying for Scuderia Ferrari remains the same. In Sepang, we had one driver, Fernando Alonso in ninth and the other, Felipe Massa in twelfth. In Shanghai, the Ferrari men produced an identical result. Also the same as in Malaysia was the management strategy for the Pirelli tyres: one set of Prime, which here is the Hard and one of Option (Soft) in Q1, one used and one new Soft in Q2. Fernando then used the last set of Soft available on his only run in Q3.
Fernando Alonso: “We knew this would be a difficult qualifying and that’s how it turned out. We managed to get into Q3, staying ahead of Vettel by a few thousandths. Then, from Q2 to Q3, the wind changed direction and that was penalising. The car is what it is and the improvements we brought here are not sufficient to produce a jump in performance and so this position corresponds more or less to our current potential. Sure, we cannot be happy to be a second off pole position, but all we can do is work to try and close this gap. If we do enough of a good job then we can think about winning, otherwise not”.
“But I remain optimistic: even in 2010, we were significantly behind the best, but all the same, we got to the final race leading the World Championship…The starting grid is very exciting and curious, with two Mercedes, one Sauber and a Lotus in front of the rest. We cannot permit ourselves to make any mistakes because we certainly don’t have the best car: if we manage to operate perfectly, as we did in Australia and Malaysia, then we can think about bringing home valuable points.”
In many countries, Friday 13th is seen as being an unlucky date but, at least as far as Scuderia Ferrari is concerned, everything here at the Shanghai International Circuit went off in normal fashion, without any problems. Only the weather in the first session – rain at times, a track that was never completely dry, nor wet enough to be able to run intermediate tyres – created a few difficulties in terms of running the programme as planned on the Maranello team’s pit perch. It was however completed by the end of the day.
Fernando Alonso: “It was a normal Friday, based mainly on evaluating new aerodynamic parts in FP1 and on the usual tyre tests in FP2. As always, we tried to work out which would be the fastest compound to use in qualifying and which the most consistent over a long run. Felipe and I split the workload on track and now, this afternoon it is down to the engineers to analyse the data and take the best decisions for tomorrow, both in terms of the updates we have brought for this race and from what we have learned regarding the tyres. It rained in the morning and this slowed the programme a bit, but all the same we managed to complete it in the second session. We definitely lack a bit of performance: we will try and find it for tomorrow, as well as trying to sort out the balance of the car, especially in terms of its grip. There’s a lot to do if we want to have a good qualifying.”