Fernando Alonso admits he will have his work cut out in tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix after qualifying down in 12th. The Spaniard was targeting a top ten place when he spun at turn one during Q2, a moment caused by straying onto the grass under braking.
Alonso felt a place in Q3 wasn't beyond the realms of possibility and is also thinks he can challenge the top ten during the race if he can make good use of his extra sets of tyres.
“It went like this: I got a bit on the grass under braking, the car took off on its own and I found myself in the gravel. I had managed to keep the engine running and was hoping the marshals would be able to push me back on track. I had done my time on used Softs: maybe with a new set I could have made it through to Q3, but I would not have been able to fight for the front rows. Today, we lacked performance, especially because we did not have enough aerodynamic downforce and we are still lacking in top speed. Tomorrow we will be racing defensively and will try and do what we can, hopefully making the most of having four sets of new tyres. Let's hope for a good start in order to catch those who are a few rows ahead of us and then fight with them to the end.”
“Here, at the end of qualifying last year, we were 1”4 off the pace, while today, in Q2 it was 1”, therefore hypothetically one could say we are more competitive than we were back then. Sure, there are other teams that have made progress, but I think we have plenty of room for improvement. In Malaysia, we will have the same car, therefore the situation won't change much. We will just have to see how it will adapt to the track characteristics there. It's true our target at the start of the year was to fight for the win right from the beginning and we have not managed that, but this will be a long season and all we can do is work on improving performanceâ€¦There's no point getting angry as it does not serve any purpose.”
Felipe Massa fared even worse in the sister Ferrari and will start 17th after a nightmare weekend. The Brazilian admitted he didn't feel comfortable at any stage with the F2012 and thinks a creative strategy may be his best chance of salvaging some points.
“I am very disappointed: this is not the start to the season I was expecting or hoping for. It was difficult right from the start of FP3: the balance of the car was never what I wanted and I never managed to get a clean lap. I was always lacking grip, both on the Mediums and the Softs and I suffered with oversteer on entry and understeer on exit. I don't know why, but the car seemed to be worse than in winter testing, maybe down to the characteristics of this circuit. Now we will try and do what we can in the race tomorrow. It will not be easy, because I will start from a long way back, but I will give it my all. I don't think we'll be able to do just a single stop, but will have to try and make up the ground lost today in qualifying. Clearly we are behind, maybe more than we had expected and there are other teams that have improved a lot compared to last year. We must work to find the right direction for developing the car.”
Technical Director Pat Fry has promised that Ferrari will leave no stone unturned as they seek to close the gap to the leaders but accepts tomorrow's race will be challenging.
“There's no denying that was a difficult qualifying. It's true that with Fernando, we could have got into Q3 with relative ease, given the time he did on his only lap in Q2 with used Softs, but I don't think we could have got higher than the fourth row. Unfortunately, Felipe was struggling with the balance of his car for the whole day and we will have to do a lot of work to try and sort out the situation as much as possible for tomorrow's race. Let's hope that over a long distance things can be better and we will at least try and exploit the fact that Fernando has no less than four sets of new tyres, while Felipe has two. Clearly the two drivers' grid positions are what they are, but we will give it our best shot. And it is equally clear that we must work like never before to make the F2012 quicker and to try and reduce the gap to the best as soon as possible.”