Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali used his post-qualifying interviews in Korea to pay tribute to colleague Pasquale Danza, who passed away today.
During the qualifying session, Felipe Massa out-qualified Fernando Alonso had the Ferrari duo took fifth and sixth places on the grid for tomorrow’s Korean Grand Prix.
“The entire team is very sad, because one of ours, Pasquale Danza, passed away today,” said Domenicali. “He worked at Ferrari for a very long time with great passion and dedication. On behalf of everyone at the Scuderia I offer our sympathies to his family; all our thoughts are with them and him at this moment. You can therefore understand that it's difficult right now to comment on qualifyingâ€¦
“We definitely cannot be surprised at the outcome, because we are well aware of the potential we have at our disposal. However, that does not mean we are resigned to it, quite the contrary in fact. Only eight days ago we were in an almost identical situation and then, 24 hours later we came very close to winning. Therefore, let's wait and see how things go tomorrow and then we can add up the figures from this weekend.”
Massa was reasonably pleased with his performance in qualifying today and says that, at the venue of his last podium finish, it would be nice to end tomorrow’s race with a trophy.
“I am happy with my performance today,” said the Brazilian. “I think I got a good lap on my final run, after the first one in Q3, when I used the same set of Supersofts I had already run in Q2. My impression is that we are now also improving our Saturday performance, but there are still four cars in front of us and so the grid position stays more or less the same. Going into this Grand Prix there was a lot of concern about tyre degradation but, at least from what we have seen today, it seems to be less severe than expected. Let's see how things go tomorrow.
“I am confident: if nothing strange happens to me, as has been the case in the last few races, then I think I can do a good job. It was actually here, a year ago, that I stood on the podium for the last time: maybe tonight I'll watch the race again, even if the weather then was very different to what we can expect tomorrow.
“Finally, I want to offer my condolences for two people who have left us this very day: Maria Martins Bassi, my wife Raffaela's grandmother and Pasquale Danza, whom I first met ten years ago when I came to Ferrari and with whom I shared so many good times, both at the track and at Maranello.”
Alonso is not looking forward to starting on the dirty side of the grid tomorrow, and will be particularly wary of the cars behind him. The Spaniard is hoping that, if tyre degradations turn out to be high, like it was in Japan, he may have a shot at victory again.
“I can't be happy with sixth, but the position reflects our current situation: McLaren and Red Bull are stronger than us so it just leaves us to fight between ourselves for fifth and sixth places,” said the double world champion. “That's how Saturday goes, but maybe tomorrow will end up like Sunday in Suzuka and we will find ourselves again fighting for the win.
“When tyre degradation is very high, usually we are in good shape, but here the situation is not very clear, as the behaviour of the Supersofts over a long run and on full tanks is still an unknown quantity. We had considered using this tyre right from Q1 but then we decided not to take too many risks.
“Today, we were losing too much time in the first sector, where we lacked top speed. On my last run, I immediately lost a few tenths at the first corner and after that, I could not make up the time, so I decided not to complete the lap. Unfortunately, I start from the dirty side of the grid, which should be a major disadvantage here, so I hope I don't lose a place to Rosberg. We will have to keep an eye on what happens ahead of us and exploit the strategy in our favour.”