The Ferrari drivers of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen ended the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend with a ninth and tenth place finish in desert. It was a case of salvaging the best result from a weekend when they were never near the ultimate pace, as they continued to suffer with the speed of their cars, particularly in a straight line.
“Today, we could not have asked more of our car and drivers, because here, our most limiting factor was a lack of top speed,” said Ferrari technical director Pat Fry. “That meant we had to run a defensive race and even if in the middle sector, the one with the most corners, the F14 T was competitive, it was not enough to allow Fernando and Kimi to attack our rivals.
“In Maranello, we are working on solutions to ensure better power delivery and better driveability. We are also trying to improve the efficiency of the car on the aerodynamic front.”
Fernando Alonso started the race from ninth on the grid having initially qualified tenth, but saw his race hampered by a lack of straight line speed that saw him passed by many drivers, most notably the Mercedes-powered Force India and Williams drivers plus the Renault-powered Red Bull Racing drivers.
“Today’s race was complicated for us, even if we knew what to expect because, with its long straights, this track shows up our weak points,” said ninth placed Alonso. “The team did a super job and sorted the problem I had yesterday in the final part of qualifying and the start and strategy were perfect. The Safety Car helped us make up a bit of ground on the cars ahead of us and also allowed us to save fuel, but it was not enough to change the result, with eight cars ahead of us doing a better job.
“Although we did all we could, we can’t be happy with our level of performance and now our sole focus must be on working day and night. The season is in its early stages and I think we can stage a recovery. We have the resources and the potential to do it and it’s all down to us.”
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen started fifth, but slipped back to tenth at the end, and was lucky to take even a point away from the weekend after the late retirement of Jenson Button’s McLaren who was running ahead of him.
“I am very disappointed with today’s result, because after how qualifying went, I expected to do better,” admitted tenth placed Raikkonen. “I didn’t get a good start and immediately lost some places. On the first lap, I was hit by Magnussen, luckily without it doing any damage, but trying to move up the order at this point was very difficult, because the lack of aero downforce and speed on the straight meant overtaking was complicated.
“We knew this track was less suited to the characteristics of our car than the first two and that the Mercedes would be very quick. Overall, the handling of our car has generally improved compared to the first races and this makes me confident for the upcoming ones. We can expect a lot of work to do and try and improve in time for the next race in China.”
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was downcast about his team’s result in Bahrain but admitted that they expected a tough weekend even before arriving at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday.
“This race provided an epilogue to a weekend which turned out to be as difficult as we had thought it would be, even before arriving in Bahrain,” said Domenicali. “This circuit is particularly tough for our car and Sakhir’s technical characteristics showed up the gaps in our performance. Now, we must forget this race and look ahead, because I don’t like seeing our drivers fighting hard everywhere and then being unable to attack or defend on the straights.
“The team must not get downhearted, even if things have not turned out the way they should so far. They must continue to work in order to step up a gear as quickly as possible.”