Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali described Fernando Alonso‘s fourth place and Felipe Massa‘s fifth today in the European qualifying session as a ‘good’ result for the team.
Domenicali noted that it was a tightly fought session, and feels that the team are steadily making progress from their disappointing start to the season.
“All in all, this was a good qualifying,” he said. “We fought McLaren right to the end for a place in the top three and we only missed out on it by a whisker. Sure, if we look back at the times, sector by sector, we can claim to have had the potential to get both our cars onto the second row, but we know how difficult it is to put together the perfect lap on a track like this.
“At the past four races, we have always qualified with at least one driver on the front two rows, which is progress compared to the first half of the season. Also, the gap to the quickest has come down, but even allowing for the fact that the circuit characteristics might have been favourable to us, it does mean that we working in the right direction in terms of the development of the car, although we need to give it an added boost.
“Tomorrow's race looks like being very uncertain: there is a clear favourite of course, but I don't think we should assume the result is a foregone conclusion. We have often seen races turn out to be more closely contested than qualifying and there is no reason why that should not be the case again tomorrow.
“The podium? I think we can fight for that. It will be important to do a good job of managing whatever situations arise during the race.”
Alonso is certainly aiming for a podium finish in tomorrow’s race, and is reasonably happy with his grid position: “I don't think this was a disappointing qualifying, because even if there were those outside the team who built up expectations, within it, we were well aware of the situation,” the Spaniard commented. “The aim was to fight with the McLarens and we did just that. Maybe we had hoped to be ahead of both, but instead we find ourselves splitting the two drivers.
“I reckon that tomorrow we could see different strategies in terms of pit stops. Our aim is to finish on the podium and we are in with a chance. The development work on the car is progressing well, but we are a long way behind in terms of aerodynamics, which to put a time value on it means two or three months. It will not be easy to catch up but we will do all we can to succeed.”
Massa said that he struggled slightly on the Medium Pirelli tyre in qualifying, and is curious to see what strategies will unfold on race day. “It wasn't an easy qualifying, even if fourth and fifth places is definitely not a bad result,” he said. “Maybe the others, especially McLaren, managed to find a little something extra between practice and qualifying, while Red Bull continues to be very strong, as was predictable.
“We have become more competitive over the past three races and our aim is to keep going down this path. We must push on the development of the car, especially as next year's regulations will be more or less the same, therefore any work we do now could be helpful in the long term too.
“With the new Medium compound, today we struggled more than yesterday: maybe there is more rubber on the track and the higher temperature did not work in our favour on this front. It will be interesting to see what strategies will be chosen for the race: I don't think doing a one-stop is possible, as was the case last year.”