Ferrari team prinicpal Stefano Domenicali said that the team’s grid positions of ninth and fourteenth just about matched the teams expectations for today’s qualifying session in Bahrain.
Fernando Alonso, who was the higher-placed of the two drivers, agreed that his qualifying performance is an accurate reflection of the pace of his car, particularly here at the Sakhir circuit. He thinks that managing tyres and strategy will be the key to a good race tomorrow..
“Today, we were worth a place somewhere between eighth and twelfth, so ninth on the grid fits in with our current level,” said the Spaniard. “Honestly, given the characteristics of this track, which are definitely not suited to our current car, so far the weekend has not in fact gone that badly.
“To be in with a chance of making it to Q3, we had to use all three sets of Soft tyres available, so we didn't have any left for the final part of the session. Doing a time on used tyres would have made no sense and would have forced us to start with a set of tyres that already had a few laps on them. Now we are free to choose either the Medium or the Soft for the start of a race that looks like being very hard, especially on tyres.
“To date, we have always gone a bit better on Sunday than Saturday: let's hope it's the same situation in Bahrain. Tomorrow, we must try and manage the tyres as well as possible, making the most of having three sets of new Mediums.
“The start will also be important, because it would be useful to make up some places right away, given that, for us, overtaking is certainly not straightforward. The aim? To finish in the points, around sixth or seventh place. I know, it's not brilliant, but that's what we can do with the car we have today.”
Unlike his team-mate, Felipe Massa does have a spare set of soft tyres available for the race tomorrow, but that was about the only positive thought that the Brazilian could glean from today’s qualifying session.
“Not exactly a brilliant position, but at least I have a new set of Softs for the race,” said Massa. “It's true that the track was improving with every passing minute, but I can't say if using two sets of Softs in Q2 would have seen me get through into Q3.
“It would have been very difficult and we had decided to sacrifice something today in favour of tomorrow's race, given that here it is very important to be able to use new tyres. That can make the difference when the track and the weather make for a high degradation level.
“We will try and get a good start and to use our strategy to make up positions. We know from our recent experience in Shanghai that, for us, overtaking is more complicated than for others. Here we suffer especially with a lack of traction coming out of the slower corners and that's why I expect we will be fighting on the defensive in the race.”
Stefano Domenicali gave a very frank and honest assessment of the qualifying result.
“In all honesty, this result matches our expectations going into the session,” he said. “Certainly we can't be happy about these positions, quite the contrary in fact: we are the first to be disappointed, but our potential today is what it is and now we must try and get the most out of it.
“Looking to a race in which tyre degradation will be a decisive factor, we came up with a programme aimed at saving as many new sets as possible, trying at the same time to get as far forward on the grid as we could. If and how well this choice will pay off, is something we will only find out tomorrow afternoon.
“The aim for this Grand Prix is damage limitation, which means bringing both cars home in the points. I expect it will be a very hard race, for the cars, the drivers and the teams: whoever manages to avoid making any mistakes will already have a fair chance of getting a good result.”