“The impressions are the usual Friday ones and to say more, we will have to wait until tomorrow and see how qualifying goes. On this track too it’s aerodynamics that make the difference and for that reason, I am not expecting too many surprises when compared to the last few Grands Prix. The time sheet follows the order that continues to be more or less the same seen in previous weekends and there is every probability that, again here, we can expect to struggle in the race. The difference between the two compounds is not as evident as in Singapore, but the Supersoft definitely has a very high degradation and we will have to see how much the track surface improvement will affect its behaviour. It won’t be easy for us in performance terms, but we know that apart from that, we can do well on Sunday. Now, we must try and get the most out of what we have available and put everything together tomorrow and in the race”.
Fernando Alonso met the media in a very sunny paddock here on the outskirts of Mokpo this afternoon and admitted that, rain or shine, this was going to be a tough weekend for Scuderia Ferrari. “Fifteen days ago we were fourth fastest behind Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes and there are very few new things on the car this weekend,” said the Spaniard. “However, if we have a good Saturday, then usually in the race we can recover a bit, with a good start and strategy, so we will be hoping to maximise our points haul.”
There is talk of rain for Saturday and Sunday and although the collective wisdom is that rain reduces performance gaps between cars, the Ferrari man doesn’t see a wet track as necessarily providing a route to the podium. “You never know who will be the lucky one in that situation,” reckoned Fernando. “It’s hard to predict, but even in the wet, Red Bull should be maximum favourites because of the high downforce levels their cars have.”
What was needed to beat Vettel and Red Bull? “We have to be realistic that we don’t have the pace to beat them in normal conditions and if we do get any luck, you can be sure we will take it!,” said Fernando. “We will not give up the fight until it’s mathematically impossible to take the title.” Alonso has fought for the title down to the wire on several occasions, sometimes winning sometimes not, so he is well qualified to assess what this final rush of six races will be like. In one word, “stressful. It will not be easy to handle all the travelling and different time zones, but our motivation will be high. We must concentrate on preparing really well in the weeks in between each grand prix so that we tackle them in 100% condition both physically and mentally.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that Alonso met with Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo. “We have quite a few update meetings during the year,” explained Fernando. “He asks me about areas where I think we need to improve and I ask him about plans for the future. Obviously, one of the main topics at the moment is our wind tunnel which we will now be able to use again after all the work done on it.” Even if the revised wind tunnel will be of more use for next year and beyond, Fernando made it clear that neither he nor Montezemolo have given up on this year. “The President and me think anything can happen. Like the Americas Cup, we saw the American team was 1-8 down and they won 9-8. We know it would be difficult, but if you have two lucky races, things can change very quickly. But we need a lot of luck; we know that.”
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“Today’s second place is like a victory for us, at the end of a difficult weekend on a track where it’s very tricky to overtake. The key points of this race were the start and the strategy and, in both cases, the decisions taken proved to be the right ones, even if they were aggressive choices. At the start, I managed to pass four cars, helped by having watched the starts from previous races here, but then I couldn’t pass Rosberg. The decision to pit when the Safety Car came out paid off, even if it wasn’t easy to get to the finish with the tyres on the limit. Fortunately, thanks to the advantage I had over Raikkonen and Webber, we were able to manage the situation over the final laps: if I’d been in a group, it would have been like the end of a horror movie! Now the gap to the championship leaders has increased and apart from congratulating them, because they deserve to be where they are, we must be realistic, because to win the title now, we would need a lot of luck. Sure, we cannot think of giving up right now because if that luck does show up, then we will be there to take it”.
“Today’s result isn’t surprising, because from the start of the season, on average we have always started from between sixth and eighth place and then made up ground in the race, which we will try and do again tomorrow. The updates brought to this race have gained us a tenth of a second on our competitors, a result which matches our expectations. Even if the gap to the leader is still significant and the improvement might not be that evident, we cannot say our engineers have not put in the effort, because everyone has done a super job. Expectations for tomorrow are still high, even if in the meantime, our rivals have not wasted their time and along with other teams like Mercedes and Lotus have made a further step forward. Faced with this, we must be realistic and try to make the most of any errors they might make. I think the podium can be within our grasp tomorrow, if we have a perfect race and make the best choices in terms of strategy, tyres and the right number of stops. Here in Singapore, in five years there has always been a safety car and for that reason, here more than anywhere else, luck can make the difference”
“We can’t say this was a good start, because we weren’t competitive, but if we consider that last year, at the end of a difficult weekend we managed to get on the podium, we definitely aren’t throwing in the towel yet. We have yet to analyse the data, but we certainly have to be realistic, because when you have one car in sixth place and the other in fifteenth, it’s clearly not the result we were hoping for, without taking into consideration the updates we have brought for this race. Now, we have a lot of work to do to find the right set-up and the best strategy. Then we will need to put in a very good qualifying lap and attack from start to finish in the race. However, we know that won’t be easy because on tracks which require high downforce, we suffer more and, just as in Hungary, apart from the fact that Mercedes seem to be on a par with Red Bull here, there are others who also look strong, like Lotus and McLaren”.