Stefano Domenicali has called on Formula 1 to do something about the growing trend in teams not sending their cars out for flying laps during Q3 after four drivers failed to set a time during the final part of qualifying at Suzuka today in order to save tyres for the race.
Ferrari did sent both Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso out in Q3 and they came back in fourth and fifth places respectively.
“Before moving on to talk about our performance today, I would take this opportunity for a more general observation,” said Domenicali. “Once again today, as has happened before during this season, we have seen cars – no less than four in Q3 – give up on doing a flying lap.
“Far be it for me to criticise those who made this choice, which is absolutely respectable from a technical point of view, I think it shows something is not right in the way qualifying is run and we should give it some careful thought for the future, because I don't think it's such a good thing for the spectators in the grandstand, who, I must say here are amazing in the way they make you feel their passion for Formula 1 and for those who are watching on television.
“Moving on to our result, I have to say it is more or less what we expected. We know where we stand at the moment technically and we have to try and make the most of every opportunity to fight for a podium finish. We will attempt that with our trademark level of determination.”
Massa out-qualified his team-mate today in Japan and insists that, despite his recent falling out with Lewis Hamilton, he has no problem with starting alongside the Brit on the grid tomorrow.
“It was a difficult qualifying session but at least we managed to keep one of the four best cars behind us,” said Massa, referring to Mark Webber, who will start sixth. “It's never easy here to put together the perfect lap and my last run was very good, even if I lost a little bit in the final sector.
“Tomorrow, it will be important to get a good start. Hamilton alongside me on the grid? It makes no difference to me if it's him or anyone else. The race looks like being a complicated one, with a lot of stops to change tyres that show significant degradation here, so it follows that strategy will play a key role.
“It will be vital to find the right pace, so as to be quick, but at the same time, save the tyres. Overtaking will not be easy, despite KERS and DRS: maybe tyre wear will count for more, given that you come onto the main straight off a very slow chicane. Our aim is the podium: we're starting one place off it, so it's a realistic expectation.”
Alonso is pleased to be starting on the clean side of the track and, like his team-mate, expects that managing tyre degradation will be key to any success in tomorrow’s race.
“I am not very surprised by this result: at the end of the day, McLaren and Red Bull have been quicker than us all weekend long and at least we have managed to get ahead of Webber,” said the Spaniard. “I seem to have a season ticket for fifth place this year and at least it means I start from the clean side of the track.
“Tomorrow I expect significant tyre degradation to be a key feature of the race, with the possibility of several pit stops, which means strategy will play a very important role. We hope we won't have the same problems as in Singapore two weeks ago. We will try and make the best choices and fight for a podium finish, which is a realistic target. The win is certainly less so: as we saw in qualifying, McLaren seem very close to Red Bull here.
“The start will also be an important moment: both myself and Felipe will try and put pressure on those closest to us and then, if we happen to make up some places we will try and have our say. My first run in Q3? I was pushing to the maximum but, after looking at the lap time analysis, I don't think I could have done much better than my second run.”