Home favourite Fernando Alonso said that fourth place on the grid in Spain was ‘more or less what we expected’, but his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa could only manage ninth spot on the Barcelona grid.
“First and foremost I want to congratulate Fernando,” said team principal Stefano Domenicali. “He drove a really fantastic lap, getting every last thousandth of a second of performance out of the package he had today. Felipe never managed to find the right feeling for the car this weekend and today he did the best he could: we have to analyse the reasons that led to this situation.
“On this track, so far one team has been untouchable, while the other top three teams are all very close. We will see if this will still be the case in tomorrow's race, especially in terms of tyre performance. Points are handed out on Sunday and before jumping to conclusions, it's best to wait for the chequered flag.”
Alonso himself acknowledges that a good start will be key to his chances of winning his home grand prix: “I am pleased with this result. We knew the Red Bulls would be untouchable, so to be fourth is more or less what we expected. As usual, tomorrow's race will be long and we must try and get the most out of what we have to work with.
“Something unexpected can always happen, as was the case for me this morning when I got a puncture coming out of the garage for my first run. I don't think we lost any valuable time, concentrating on the development of the blown rear wing: here and in China, we had so many other new components that we have been able to gain a few tenths in performance terms, without which we would be much further back on the grid, because the others are also working very hard.
“We are moving in the right direction and we have to continue like this. Tomorrow, it will be very important to get a good start: recently they have not gone so well for me and so this would be just the right moment to get one!”
Felipe Massa seemed a bit confused as to why he was so far behind his teammate in qualifying: “In qualifying I had a lot of trouble finding the right grip level, especially in the second and third sectors, which contain the slowest corners on the track: I felt as though I was rally driving, always understeering.
“Already yesterday, I realised this would not be an easy weekend and so I was not surprised at what happened today. We worked on different set-ups for the car and chose the best one, but it was not enough: we have to work out why, but without panicking, but by calmly analysing the situation.
“Maybe I didn't put together the best possible lap, but even so I don't think I would have been in the fight for the top places. The Red Bulls are much quicker than everyone else here and we will have to do our best to try and get a good finishing position.”
Chris Dyer agrees with Fernando Alonso that a good start will be important on race day. “We cannot be happy to find ourselves almost a second off pole position, that's for sure. Both Felipe and Fernando have struggled all weekend, especially in terms of grip levels. On his last qualifying lap, Fernando produced an exceptional lap and getting the car at least onto the second row was down to his talent.
“Tomorrow, it will be vital to manage to get a good start, given that, on this track, overtaking is very difficult. One unknown factor is tyre behaviour: from what we have seen so far, there might be some surprises over the long runs.”