Fernando Alonso said that his Ferrari team are a bit less competitive than usual’ in Brazil today after finished Friday practice fourth on the timesheets.
The Spaniard, for whom the morning session ended prematurely with an engine failure, is hoping that the forecast rain does arrive on race day, otherwise a podium finish is all he can realistically hope for here at Interlagos.
“It was not an easy day, because we have still not managed to find the right balance on the car,” he said. “Therefore, we must wait and see if and by how much we manage to improve its handling and therefore, how competitive we can be in tomorrow afternoon's qualifying session. In particular, I am not happy with the rear end of the car.
“The engine? These things happen and it did not cost me much time, less than I lost on Friday in India. We will have to wait for the engine to arrive in Maranello, where it will be opened up and the engineers will be able to get a better idea of what the nature of the problem was. This won't cause any problems for qualifying and the race, when we will fit another one.
“Honestly, at least looking at what we saw today, I think that in the dry we are a bit less competitive than usual: I don't think I can fight with the Red Bulls and McLarens and, on top of that, one of the Mercedes is very quick. However, there's a very high chance of rain, so anything could happen.
“If I could choose today, I would opt for a wet race because, in normal conditions, we can only expect a fifth place in qualifying and to fight for a podium place in the race.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa is happy to be back in his home country, and equally pleased that this is the season finale after a difficult year. He is hoping to end 2011 on a high with his first podium of the season.
“I am very happy to be racing here in my country, Brazil,” he said. “I am also pleased this is the last race in a season that has been far from inspiring: if I had to mark myself out of ten, I think I would waver around the five mark. From Monday, we will be able to concentrate totally on 2012: we must improve in all areas, but above all on the aerodynamic front, which in the current Formula 1 is the design element of the car that has the biggest effect. However, we must not overlook every detail, because it can be the little things that lead to a perfect car.
“Today, the lap times were slower compared to last year's: maybe the tyres Pirelli have brought here are harder than the Bridgestones and also the temperatures are higher. We tried a lot of different settings and now we must put it all together to try and be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and especially for the race.
“The rain? We must be ready to tackle any situation. We don't have anything new, but I really hope we can do a good job and end the season on a high note. A podium would be fantastic and that would give me even more motivation for next season.”