Ferrari managed to exactly replicate their qualifying result from Malaysia today in China as Fernando Alonso once again claimed ninth place whilst Felipe Massa took twelfth on the grid.
However, Alonso was not dwelling on coincidences – he just knows that work must be done to close the gap to the front-runners.
“We knew this would be a difficult qualifying and that's how it turned out,” said the Spaniard. “We managed to get into Q3, staying ahead of Vettel by a few thousandths. Then, from Q2 to Q3, the wind changed direction and that was penalising.
“The car is what it is and the improvements we brought here are not sufficient to produce a jump in performance and so this position corresponds more or less to our current potential. Sure, we cannot be happy to be a second off pole position, but all we can do is work to try and close this gap.
“If we do enough of a good job then we can think about winning, otherwise not. But I remain optimistic: even in 2010, we were significantly behind the best, but all the same, we got to the final race leading the World Championshipâ€¦
After setting only the eighteenth fastest time in Free Practice 3 this morning, Massa was reasonably pleased to qualify as high as twelfth today.
“On the one hand I am obviously unhappy not to have made it through to Q3 but, on the other, I have to be pleased with my position if I consider where we were this morning at the end of FP3,” said the Brazilian. “In the afternoon, the situation improved, the car had much more grip and I managed to be more competitive, but I couldn't say exactly why. Probably the track conditions changed in a way that suited us.
“We hope to continue like this tomorrow afternoon and to bring home a good result: it's really needed right now! I so much want a normal race, a calm one in which I manage to do my job well and pick up some points. I still don't have any and the moment has come to remove this zero from the classification.”
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali struggled to explain today’s qualifying result and the ranges in lap times.
“I challenge anyone to produce a rational explanation of how this afternoon's qualifying went, not just for ourselves, but also as far as almost all the other cars are concerned,” he said. “We went from having very small gaps in Q2, with eleven drivers in around three tenths of one another, to much bigger differences in Q3, with very strong fluctuations in some cases.
“Given our current situation and above all, the fact that at this track, the major weaknesses of the F2012 seem to be particularly marked, this result is an accurate reflection of where we are in terms of outright performance, even if we have seen that later, in the race, things can change.