Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali acknowledged that the team need to provide their drivers with a better car after Fernando Alonso finished the Spanish Grand Prix in fifth place – a lap behind the leaders – and Felipe Massa‘s unspectacular afternoon ended in retirement.
Alonso got off to a fantastic start in his home race, and was leading before the first corner. However, after leading the opening laps, his afternoon quickly went downhill.
“There is no denying that being lapped hurts,” admitted Domenicali. “It's even more painful after seeing a driver of Fernando's calibre putting on such a breathtaking display at the start and then fighting like a lion to keep drivers with clearly faster cars behind him for almost twenty laps. We need to provide him and Felipe with a car with which they can fight all the way to the end of a race and not just in the first part.
“On a track thatfavours cars that have a lot of aerodynamic downforce, ours are lacking in this area and that was glaringly obvious, especially on the new hard tyres brought here by Pirelli. We never managed to get this type of tyre to work and our pace was at least two seconds off that of the first four. What to do now? Continue to work on improving the car and finding the aerodynamic downforce that is lacking.
“We now go into a run of three races which will see the use of the soft and supersoft tyres: we will see what happens and assess the situation at that point.”
Alonso insists that, despite his poor start to the season, he is still in contention for the championship. He also said that he was pleased to give the home fans something to cheers about off the line:
“The best bit of the race was obviously the start,” said the Spaniard. “We have worked so much on this area and you could see the outcome. It was fantastic to see the crowd cheering in the grandstands! I tried to do the maximum, keeping the quickest ones behind me for around twenty laps, but after that, there was nothing I could do.
“It was very stressful having them filling my mirrors all the time and we tried as much as possible to copy or anticipate their moves. That meant doing over the half the race on the hards, which penalised us heavily and made the gap bigger than it is in reality.
“We lack aerodynamic downforce: here we did not have a wing that suited this track. We must analyse carefully the behaviour of all the modifications we brought to this Grand Prix and understand why, in the space of two weeks, we have lost ground to Red Bull and McLaren. Now we head off to Monaco immediately for what is a special race on the calendar. Anything could happen there. Sure, we know the amount of downforce required at this track is the highest of the year, but that was also the case last year and we were competitive. I am definitely not thinking of giving up on the championship after just five races: the gap in the classification is very big, but everything can still happen, I'm sure of it.”
Massa explained that a gearbox issue had ended his race prematurely, and will be glad to see the back of the hard tyres in Monaco. “Towards the end of the race I could not select the gears and I had to stop at the side of the track: it was a fitting end to a terrible weekend,” he said.
“Luckily, we can start again immediately, with the Monaco race, which is something of a second home race for me, given that I live in the Principality. Also luckily, we will not have the hard tyres we had today that really did not work for us. When we went from the option to the prime we began to suffer more and more: there was no grip and I was struggling to keep the car on track.
“Thanks to the strategy, we had managed to pass the Mercedes and Petrov's Renault, but it all came to nothing in the end. We did not have enough aerodynamic downforce to get the hard tyres to work properly, as indeed we have already seen at other races, but here it was even more of a problem.”