Once again Ferrari could not challenge Red Bull or McLaren during qualifying today in Abu Dhabi, but were comfortably ahead of the rest of the field.
Fernando Alonso will start from fifth place, alongside team-mate Felipe Massa.
“We are more or less where we expected to be going into the session,” said Alonso. “It's not because this is the eighth time out of eighteen qualifying sessions that I have ended up fifth. It's that, all year long, with a few rare exceptions, McLaren and Red Bull are stronger than us on Saturday, while on Sunday the situation is usually different, with the gaps between us being much closer. We know we can fight for the podium, but to succeed, we will have to do everything perfectly, beginning with the start and our strategy.”
Massa thought that he might be able to challenge his team-mate for fifth had things gone his way today. “To be honest, I hoped for more from this qualifying,” said the Brazilian. “I struggled more than expected to get the best out of the tyres on the first flying lap: maybe it would have been worth trying a longer run, with two attempts. As expected, today McLaren and Red Bull showed they have the edge over us. In the end, we are in the grid positions we can expect in this final part of the season.”
Team principal Stefano Domenicali agreed with the evaluations of his drivers, and is hoping that factors like DRS, tyres and general reliability will allow them to make up positions in tomorrow’s race. “We weren't expecting any surprises and we did not get any,” he said. “We know what is our potential in qualifying and, in order to get onto the front two rows, something special must happen: in India that was the case, but not here, so our positions are relatively easy to understand.
“Just to make it clear, it's not a case of being pleased with this result in absolute terms, but neither should we be trying to fool our fans by claiming to be able to fight for the win. Tomorrow, we have every chance of fighting for a place on the podium: it won't be easy, but neither will it be impossible.
“In a track where, as we are only too aware, overtaking has never been easy, it will be interesting to see how effective will be the two zones where we can activate the moveable rear wing. Strategy, the work done by the drivers and the team, tyre behaviour and reliability: the usual parameters will once again hold the key.”