Stefano Domenicali insisted that Ferrari were heading ‘in the right direction’ despite Fernando Alonso scoring his fourth fifth position in four races this season and Felipe Massa qualifying tenth for the Turkish Grand Prix.
“Clearly this is not the sort of result we were looking for, but it is equally evident that all the work undertaken in these last few weeks is beginning to deliver some signs of progress,” said the Ferrari team principal. “It's not yet enough, we are well aware of that, but we are moving in the right direction. Now we must concentrate on tomorrow's race, which will be very long and tough, both for the cars and for the tyres.
“The number one priority, as always in fact, will be reliability. As for the strategy, we have seen in this early part of the season that there is a great degree of unpredictability about it, so we will have to keep our eyes wide open and a cool head, ready to pounce on any and every opportunity.”
Alonso also believes that his car is getting better, and was determined to point out the positive aspects of starting from fifth place tomorrow. “Fifth place is not the sort of result one can be pleased about, but today I am happy because I felt the car was more competitive than it has been in the first three qualifying sessions of the season,” said the Spaniard. “Getting into Q2 without using the soft tyres is significant.
“We have made a small step forward in terms of performance: it's not yet enough and we quickly need to make a bigger one, but it's definitely a confidence boost for the whole team, who are working in the right direction. I would say that this the first sign of light at the end of the tunnel in this early part of the season.
“Fifth place also means I avoid the dirty side of the track, which is usually a big handicap here. It's hard to say what will be the best strategy for tomorrow, because we don't know how the tyres will behave: we will have to be ready for any eventuality and be very flexible.”
Alonso also paid tribute to fellow countryman, golfer Severiano Ballesteros, who died last night: “I want to take the opportunity to express my great sadness at the death of a great personality in Spanish sport, Severiano Ballesteros, who put Spain on the golfing map: I offer all my sympathies to those close to him at this painful time.”
Massa did not sound as positive as his team-mate, and with good reason: he unnecessarily wasted a set of soft tyres in Q1, and then did not set a flying lap in Q3 after aborting his one attempt. The Brazilian thinks that, all being well, he should have qualified up with team-mate Alonso.
“It was not a good qualifying for me: I did not manage to get a clean lap in Q3 after I made a significant mistake at Turn 9, when I ended up going off line: we therefore decided it was better to pit and save that set of tyres for the start,” he explained. “In Q1, with the hards, I did not get a great lap and so as not to take any risks, we decided to also use the softs, so I only had one new set available for the final part of qualifying.
“Now we will see what we can do in the race tomorrow: usually our pace is better than in qualifying, but it will not be easy to do well, given that I'm starting from tenth. We will see what the tyre degradation will be like, maybe it will be a bit higher than what we saw in China. A shame, as I could have been on the third row, along with my team-mate.
“This morning, in FP3, the engineers saw an engine parameter that they were not sure about and so it was decided to change it at the end of the session. So I went back to the engine I had already used in Malaysia and China, which according to the schedule is still meant to do three races.”