Fernando Alonso was the best of the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers in qualifying ahead of this weekends German Grand Prix in seventh, but team-mate Kimi Raikkonen’s difficult season continued as he could only qualify twelfth at Hockenheim.
Alonso has had a relatively disappointing weekend to date but feels the F14 T is far easier to drive now the upgrades have been attached to the car. He feels he will continue to struggle in the race with the pace of the Mercedes-powered cars being so strong and with their tyre degradation being worse than other teams in the hot temperatures.
“We can’t be happy with seventh, but it reflects the fact this weekend has been one of ups and downs,” said Alonso. “Apart from the actual numbers in today’s qualifying, I did find I was more at ease in my F14 T and I think I got the most out of it.
“I reckon in the race we will suffer more because of tyre degradation. With such high temperatures, the rear tyres slide a lot and it will be really important to choose the right number of stops to make. The forecast is unclear as to whether the rain will arrive during or after the race and so we have to be clever at being ready to anticipate it if we want to be in the game.
“Here, as in Austria, Mercedes and Williams seem out of reach, but we will do all we can to be at the front of the following group. I hope to see a bunched up race, with a lot of overtaking, even though I’m not expecting too many surprises because the absence of FRIC hasn’t produced any significant changes, nor closed the gaps much.”
Team-mate Raikkonen missed out on the final part of qualifying by a small margin, but was disappointed to miss out on Q3. He is hopeful of converting his twelfth place on the grid to a top ten finish and some points after a difficult weekend so far.
“This weekend, a few technical problems meant I spent more time in the garage than usual, but already, as from yesterday afternoon, my feeling with the car had improved,” said Raikkonen. “Today, in Q1 things went reasonably well, but then in Q2, when I fitted the second set of new Supersofts, my car was sliding all over the place and I lost the back end in turn 2. After that, it was impossible to put a good lap together.
“I’m not happy with my grid position, but I hope things can go better in tomorrow’s race. It’s likely the weather could be different tomorrow and the temperatures will be lower. We will try and make the most of any opportunity because we want to have a nice race and bring home a good number of points.”
Technical Director Pat Fry was disappointed with the outcome of qualifying but admits the team were not expecting to be much higher than Alonso’s seventh on the grid. He feels the team have to be in position to exploit any opportunity in the race, whether the weather intervenes or a rival driver struggles.
“The result of qualifying is far from satisfying, even if it’s more or less what we were expecting, given the current performance level of our car,” said Fry. “The race looks like being very difficult and the weather, with an uncertain forecast for tomorrow, could be the key factor.
“Temperatures were very high again today and in these conditions, it’s never easy for the drivers. This track requires maximum concentration as it is a relatively short lap and it only takes very little to lose a few tenths and find yourself down the back. Indeed, Kimi unfortunately lost a few in turn 2 in the second part of qualifying and didn’t make it to Q3. As for Fernando, he managed to improve in the final part, compared to his times in Q1 and Q2 and as usual, he pushed his car to the limit. He could not have done more.
“Tomorrow, rain could appear and throw up some surprises and we must be ready to exploit the slightest opportunity. However, if it doesn’t rain and it stays hot, I think tyre management and reliability of the cars will be the key factors, putting aside outright individual performance levels.”