Formula 1

Ferrari On Pace But Narrowly Miss Out

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After a disappointing 2009, Ferrari showed hints of a return to form in 2010, with both cars qualifying in the top three for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

It was Felipe Massa who claimed a spot on the front row of the grid next to pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel, while Fernando Alonso will start from third for tomorrow’s race.

The Ferrari team principal was very happy with his teams efforts. “It's a good result, coming at the end of a very closely contested session,” said Stefano Domenicali. “I want to thank all the staff of the Gestione Sportiva, who have worked hard these past few months to try and close the gap to what were the top teams at the end of last season. At least today, we have returned to breathing in the air at the top of the pack, even if we are well aware that the final figures are only totted up on Sunday afternoon after the race.

“We can expect quite a long and tough race, during which the number one priority, as always, will be reliability: with such hot weather, cars, drivers and tyres will be put under a heavy strain. It will also be important to manage the race as well as possible, finding the right moment to change tyres. I think this is something of an unknown for everyone, given that we will be experiencing very different conditions to those we experienced in the February tests.

“I am very satisfied with the way Fernando has integrated himself within our team: it seems as though he has been with us for years rather than months. And I am delighted that Felipe's return to racing will start from the front row of the grid: it is well deserved after everything he went through last year.”

Felipe Massa was pleased to return to racing after his horrific accident at the Hungaroring in July. “It's great to get back to being so competitive after such a difficult time. It's a good way to start the new season and a nice reward for all the work the team has done over the winter.

“The race will be very difficult, but I am happy to be in with a chance of fighting for the top places. Yesterday, we did good work in preparing for the race and I think we went in the right direction, but this is only the first Grand Prix and there are still many unknown factors to work out, for example, finding the right moment to change tyres.

“Today, I gave it my all, doing a great lap on my last run, while the previous ones had not been so good. I wish to thank Sebastian for what he said about me at the start of the press conference. It pleased me a lot and shows the great respect that exists between we drivers.”

Fernando Alonso was pleased with his qualifying debut for Ferrari, and is glad to find himself in a competitive team again. “Up until today we did not have a clear reference as to how competitive we were: with our cars on the first and second rows we can be satisfied because it means our championship is getting off on a positive note. I am pleased with my qualifying debut for my new team.

“The F10 was strong in Q1 and Q2, but then Vettel managed to do better than us. On my last run I lost precious time in a couple of corners, losing a couple of tenths, which can happen when you are fighting for pole. I am not surprised to find Felipe ahead of me: he is my team-mate and we all know how good he is round this track.

“We know we have a good car which we fine tuned during the February tests: today we showed its potential and now we have eight months of work to develop it.”

Chris Dyer was pleased to be back at the right end of the grid, and is looking forward to the race tomorrow, where he believes the cars will perform well. “I am happy to be able to say there's a whisker of disappointment after this result, given that I can hardly remember the last time we managed to get both cars into Q3!

“Two cars on the two front rows is a good basis to start from and tomorrow's race looks like being very interesting. We had some minor problems on the cars during the day, but the team did a good job of managing the situation as well as possible. During yesterday's long run testing, our cars seemed to be pretty consistent in terms of performance and we didn't see anyone who looked particularly stronger than us.”

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David is an occasional contributer to the site on matters related to Formula 1. You can follow him on twitter at @Dr_Bean.
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