Ferrari endured a tough Spanish Grand Prix, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso being classified sixth and Kimi Raikkonen seventh after an inter-team battle that was only decided a few laps from the end of the race at the Circuit de Catalunya. Alonso finished almost 90 seconds behind the race winner, whereas Raikkonen was lapped on the final lap by the two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Home-favourite Alonso spent the majority of the race behind his team-mate before finding away past on fresher tyres a few laps from the end, but admitted he would have liked to have finished higher than the sixth place in which he ended up.
“Of course I’d have liked to have done better here in my home race, but I knew right from the start that it would be difficult,” said Alonso. “Our pace was too slow compared to the leaders and on top of that, not making up any places at the start didn’t help. The gap to the best is nothing new and today’s result confirms the fact our rivals are strong on both the performance and the reliability fronts, but until it is mathematically impossible to catch them we will continue to believe and do all we can to catch up.
“The decision to go for a three stop strategy was taken in an attempt to cover Vettel, but unfortunately I lost the place at the pit stop and I only managed to make up one on Kimi, who was impossible to pass when we were on the same tyres. In the two weeks to go to the Monaco Grand Prix, we will continue to work day and night: we definitely can’t expect to have a new car, because you can’t achieve a revolution in such a short space of time, but we will do our very best to improve in all areas.”
Raikkonen felt the strategy he used ultimately was not the right one for him, and bemoaned a lack of grip due to excess tyre degradation. He finished a lapped seventh, and wasn’t a happy Finn after the race.
“That was a complicated race for me, with the main problem being a lack of grip and in general, it was very difficult to find the right balance on the car,” said Raikkonen. “Going for a two-stop strategy proved to be the wrong choice because tyre degradation meant I couldn’t push all the way to the end. Overall here, we went better than in the last race, maybe because the characteristics of this track are very different to those we have raced on so far, but we cannot be happy with sixth and seventh places, because we are a long way off where we want to be. It will take time, but we will do our utmost, because we know where we must keep pushing if we want to improve.”
Ferrari Technical Director Pat Fry bemoaned the difficulty of overtaking at the Spanish circuit, and with neither Raikkonen nor Alonso gaining places at the start, it was almost game over for them. He admitted the car was far from perfect, and they will be working on it to give the drivers a better chance in future races.
“This weekend, which was difficult for the team and the drivers ended with a less than spectacular race in which we unfortunately lacked the pace to make up places from our grid positions,” said Fry. “Considering how difficult it is to overtake at this track, the start could have made the difference, but the positions remained more or less the same throughout the order.
“If fuel consumption wasn’t much of a problem, tyre degradation affected the race from start to finish. Apart from the two Mercedes, the lap times of the various teams were very similar, which meant the chances of being able to carry out or be subjected to an undercut, along with managing the traffic, took priority over the strategy choices. The gap to the leaders is certainly not a surprise and will not discourage us as we tackle the work we must do to improve our car. The aim is to give our drivers a more competitive package.”