Alonso Qualifies Only Fifth Despite ‘Best Q3 Lap’ of 2011


Fernando Alonso - Photo Credit: Ferrari
Fernando Alonso - Photo Credit: Ferrari

 

Fernando Alonso was disappointed to qualifying only fifth in Singapore today despite producing what he called ‘his best Q3 lap of the whole year’.

The double-world champion, however, is now looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, and is hopeful of finishing on the podium. If Sebastian Vettel wins from pole tomorrow, Alonso will need to join the German on the podium if he is to keep his slim championship hopes alive.

“I am pleased with this qualifying, because I think that might have been my best Q3 lap of the whole year,” said the Spaniard. “I gave it 120%, taking risks in some corners, but that was the only way I could hope to fight for the top places. If I'd driven a normal lap, I would have finished in the same position, but half a second off the two McLarens, rather than less than a tenth. Sure, if I was in front of Hamilton and Button, then it would be a completely different story, but that's how it turned out and there's no point saying we were unlucky. I am convinced that a podium finish is within our reach.

“Usually, we go better in the race than in qualifying and there is no reason why that should not be the case here. We will try and make up some places at the start, even if, at this track, there is not much of a run from the start line to the first corner. Then we will try and make the most of our strategy and any eventual tyre degradation levels lower than that of some our opponents. This is a very hard race for the mechanical parts of the car and the Safety Car is usually involved: we will see what happens, but, I say it again, I am confident in our chances of getting to the podium.”

Felipe Massa will start the Singapore Grand Prix alongside his Ferrari team-mate on the third row of the grid. The Brazilian thinks that the team are more competitive here than there were in Monza and was not happy with the behaviour of Lewis Hamilton on his warm-up lap in Q3.

“Sixth is definitely not the result we were aiming for, but we have to accept it,” said Massa. “Now we must think about the race which definitely does not look like being an easy one: tyre degradation is significant, both on the Soft and the Supersoft and will have to be able to adapt to that as best we can. I think that, as never before, getting the strategy right will be the key to having a good race. We are definitely more competitive here than we were in Monza.

“Today, it was not easy putting together a perfect lap and, even if the car was much improved compared to the last free practice session, I still had a lot of oversteer, especially when the rear tyres were overheating in the second and third sectors.

“The incident with Hamilton? Honestly, I don't understand why he wanted to pass at all costs: we were all in a line on our “out” lap and there was nothing to be gained from acting like that.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that his drivers will ‘exploit every opportunity’ that comes their way in tomorrow’s race and thinks that, if qualifying were to be run again, Alonso could have achieved a front row grid slot here in Singapore.

“This qualifying mirrors the championship,” Domenicali reasoned. “There is one driver and car combination that is all but untouchable and then four drivers who are fighting it out to the nearest hundredth of a second, the same four who can be found battling for second place in the classification.

“Clearly, we are a bit disappointed today because in fact, Fernando came very close to getting a slot on the front row, but we are well aware that one must accept the reality of the situation, without beating ourselves up about it. Felipe got the job done, extricating himself from a couple of complicated moments and getting the grid position that one could have expected.

“Now we must concentrate on tomorrow night's race, which will be extremely long and tough, both for the drivers and the cars. We will try and do our best, exploiting every opportunity that comes our way.”