Both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are hoping that 2012 will bring them a better car after they finished the final race of the 2011 season fourth and fifth respectively.
Alonso was running third at one point, but a resurgent Jenson Button overtook the Spaniard less than ten laps from the end of the race, depriving him of a podium.
“Yet another race in which we did everything to perfection, from the start to the strategy and the work of the team,” was Alonso’s summary of the afternoon in Sao Paulo. “The final result is more down to the performance of the others than our own, because we could not have done more. Once again today, we got a very good start, putting a nice passing move on Button, but then, on the Medium tyres, we no longer had the speed to fend him off. I also had a problem with the DRS which would not activate: I was not fighting closely with other drivers, but it would certainly have helped me gain a few tenths while overtaking.
“This Grand Prix produced an accurate reflection of the season: we have almost always done our maximum, fighting for a podium finish in a car that was not as good as the top two. In terms of team work we grew a lot in 2011 and we must absolutely make this the starting point for a very different 2012.
“If I had to score our performance, I can but repeat what President Montezemolo said, giving us something between a five and six, but all the same I am proud of what the team was able to do. We need a car that is about five or six tenths quicker: achieving that won't be a walk in the park, but I have every confidence in our engineers and in a team that dominated the last decade in Formula 1 and holds every possible record in this sport.
“Let us not forget that I managed to get on the podium ten times and to score more points than last year. Losing out on third in the Drivers' Championship is definitely not a big problem: first place is the only one that really countsâ€¦”
Massa tried a two stop strategy today which, with the tyre wear experienced, ultimately did not pay off. However, the Brazilian did also say that he had, in some way, made up with Lewis Hamilton after all of the crashes that had dogged their respective seasons.
“It was a difficult race, at the end of a weekend that was not the best from a technical point of view,” he said. “We never managed to find the right balance and then came the sting in the tail of the puncture we discovered yesterday, which robbed me of a set of Softs for the race and thus meant I had to make only two stops. I knew it would be penalising because I would have to do a lot of laps on the Medium, a tyre with which we have a bigger performance gap than on the Softs when compared to our closest competitors.
“Sure, I would have liked to celebrate my one hundredth Grand Prix with Ferrari with a much different result, but I have to accept the way things went. In fact, the race pretty much summed up the season: reasonably good on the Soft, then struggling on the harder compound.
“I was very pleased to feel the affection of the crowd, who supported me from the start to the end of the weekend. It's been a difficult year for me and the team and now we can turn the page. We must work on improving the car and I will do all I can never to have such a disappointing season again.
“I want to say I was pleased that Lewis came round to see me while I was talking to the journalists: it was a very nice gesture on his part. What do I want from Father Christmas? Along with Felipinho, I will be writing and asking for a fantastic car right from start to finish in 2012â€¦”
Team principal Stefano Domenicali said that they were disappointed to miss out on a podium finish today, and reiterated that better things should come from next season.
“We had hoped and wanted to end the season with at least one more podium finish, even if we knew it would be very difficult given the quality of opponent we had ahead of us after qualifying,” he said. “Fernando came close to achieving our wish, fighting to the bitter end, but he had to settle for looking up at the podium, which along with Webber's win, means he won't be off to India to take part in the FIA Gala for the top three finishers in the Drivers' Championship: it's a shame because given how he performed this year – he even scored more points than in 2010 – he definitely deserved better.
“Felipe was forced to adopt a strategy which looked slower on paper, but he had a good race all the same and would have finished fifth on track even without having to wait for the retirement of the second McLaren.
“Now we can definitely file away a year where our performance was insufficient by our standards and think only of next season. Once again, we congratulate those who did a better job than us and we look forward to facing them again next year, when we will try to be the best of the lot. That is our target and we have no intention of hiding the fact.
“We have weeks of hard work ahead of us and we will only start to see the fruits of our labours in February, when it's time to fire up the engines again. Finally, let me say I am happy to hear that Lewis came round to see Felipe during his press meeting, which thus puts an end to all the recent misunderstandings.”