Ferrari Leave Budapest in Cheerful Mood

Ferrari leave the Hungarian Grand Prix content with their performance, despite Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa only managing to take fifth and ninth places respectively in Budapest.

In fact, Alonso managed to increase his championship lead to 40 points and, while Ferrari drop to fourth place in the constructors’ championship, they are only four points behind McLaren, who are second.

“Definitely a case of the glass being half full!” was the verdict of Stefano Domenicali, their team principal. “Fifth place for Fernando has allowed him to extend his lead in the classification, which is a very important achievement on a weekend in which we definitely did not have the performance to fight with the best.

“It was a very hard race, decided for the most part by grid positions and the start, with the only variables concerning tyre degradation and the different strategies adopted. I think that, as far as the latter is concerned, we made the right choices, which resulted in Fernando getting ahead of at least two cars that were quicker than his. In fact, it was the start that had a negative effect for Felipe: the places he lost then could not be made up, despite having a race pace that matched those ahead of him.

“As I said at the start, the outcome of this weekend is not a negative one, but clearly we need to look closely at the way the weekend went as a whole to discover the reasons why we were not as competitive as in the last few races. Now we still have a week of work before the summer break: there's a lot to do to reduce the performance gap and to be as well prepared as possible for the last two races still to be run in Europe.”

Alonso was also in a good mood after today’s race: “It's a positive result, no doubt about it,” said the Spaniard. “We knew this would be a complicated weekend because we were not quick enough, but despite everything, we managed to extend our lead over Webber. In terms of the championship it has therefore been a very good weekend.

“To have finished ahead of one Red Bull and right behind the other in these circumstances was very important because, on paper, we should have expected to finish seventh. Hamilton was out of our reach this weekend, but we did not lose much ground to Vettel and these are in my opinion, the strongest of the group that's behind me in the championship.

“We made the right strategic choices: it's true I lost a bit of time behind Perez and this cost me a place to Raikkonen, but the Finn was probably out of reach this afternoon. We have a lead of forty points, courtesy of a car that has not been the best in this first half of the season. Now we must try and make a good leap forward in terms of performance to allow us to keep the lead in the Championship, because in the long term, what we have now will not be enough.

“If we are where we are, it's because we have always made the most of what we had and because of an excellent reliability record: it's not by chance that you get 23 consecutive points finishes. July has been a tough and stressful month, with three races and a lot of work at the factory.

“Now I want to take a break for a bit and fully recharge the batteries, to show up again in Spa in perfect shape, in the hope that the second part of the season is as positive and productive as the first one. There are five weeks to rest and work, looking to the future, starting with two very demanding races at Spa and Monza.”

Felipe Massa was not quite as pleased as his team-mate, for fairly obvious reasons. The Brazilian is confident that he will come back stronger after the summer break, but had nothing to say on his contract negotations for next season:

“My race was ruined at the start, when I spun the wheels, possibly because the clutch had overheated: that cost me two places which I then never managed to make up,” said Massa. “Overtaking is really difficult at this track and, even if at some points in the second stint, I was stronger than Webber and Senna, I never managed to get the slightest chance to pass them. Therefore, this has not been a great race for me, but at least I managed to bring home a couple of points.

“At Silverstone and Hockenheim, our pace was a match for the best, but that was not the case here and this definitely made the whole weekend difficult. This first part of the season has definitely not been very positive for me, although today I certainly feel better than at the start and I'm sure the second half will be better.

“My contract? Until the situation is not clear, there's nothing to say! I'm concentrating on doing well in the next races and that is my number one aim.”