Fernando Alonso was fairly happy with the performance of the Pirelli tyres on Friday in Malaysia after finishing sixth in second practice. Many drivers were seen locking their brakes and flat-spotting tyres today but Alonso didn't encounter any serious problems in his Ferrari.
The Spaniard has refused to make any predictions for qualifying though, especially with the weather forecast looking increasingly uncertain.
“As usual here in Malaysia, one of the main tasks on Friday is to get used to the extreme conditions as quickly as possible. Especially in the garage, you suffer from the heat when you are inside the cockpit, while at least out on track, you get a bit of air, although you can hardly call it cool! This morning we did a lot of work on comparing different aerodynamic configurations, which was a bit like putting together a puzzle, trying to find the best combination. In the afternoon, we then moved on to the usual Friday job with the tyres, running with various different fuel levels on board. I would say that on this front, both the Mediums and the Hards seem to behave reasonably well, both in terms of performance on the first lap and when it comes to degradation on a long run. We gathered a lot of useful information which will allow us to be ready for the rest of the weekend. It did not rain today, but we know that here a storm can arrive without a moment's notice and so we need to be ready for every eventuality.”
Teammate Felipe Massa was 16th fastest in the afternoon as the one-second gap between the two Ferraris from Melbourne continued but the Brazilian was keen to stress that they weren't running the same programmes today.
“Fernando and I were on rather different programmes from each other and that is the main reason for the difference on the time sheet. In the afternoon in particular, we went in completely different directions which in my case did not work, but at least it allowed me to understand a few important things about the handling of the car. Now my engineers and I know what is the right direction to go in, which makes me feel more optimistic for qualifying compared to how I felt about it last week in Melbourne. Clearly, at the moment, our car is not yet competitive at the highest level. Do I feel any special pressure? No, no more than usual: at Ferrari we are always under pressure. The important thing is to understand what did not work in Melbourne and I think we have everything in hand to do that.”
Technical Director Pat Fry was encouraged by the performance of the F2012 today and thinks there is a chance of getting both drivers into Q3 tomorrow.
“Both drivers had a very packed programme today, with slight differences between them, but focussed on the same three main points: a comparison between various aerodynamic configurations, an evaluation of the performance of the two types of tyre (Medium and Hard) that Pirelli have brought here and trying to find the best set-up. We had no major problems and so we were able to complete the entire programme and now we are analysing the data to fine tune the two cars for qualifying and the race. I would say that, at first glance, the situation is not that different to last week, nor could it be any other way, given that the cars are more or less identical to the way they were in Melbourne. We did not see any particular balance problems and the pace over a long run does not seem that bad. Fernando in particular seems to be a bit more comfortable with the car, while we still have work to do to put Felipe in the best conditions possible. The aim for tomorrow is to get both cars into Q3: we are aware that, with our current potential, it will not be easy, but we will give it our all.”