The Scuderia Ferrari team are slowly making progress in 2014, but still feel they are not where they want to be in terms of pace compared to the teams around them and in front of them. Fernando Alonso had good pace throughout the German Grand Prix last weekend to finish fifth, but Kimi Raikkonen was again luckless to miss out on points in eleventh. Both will want to have a good Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend at the Hungaroring in the last race before the mid-season break.
Alonso continues to put the Ferrari where it shouldn’t be, and last weekend in Germany he was able to split the two Red Bull Racing machines of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo to take fifth. He is hoping for a competitive weekend in Hungary even though he expects the circuit to not suit his car.
“Obviously the car will be identical to Hockenheim with only four days between the races and the circuit layout is not particularly good for us with a traction-demanding circuit,” said Alonso. “On the other hand, every race has been a bit of a surprise. Some circuits we thought we’d be more competitive and we were less and vice versa so we just go into the weekend with a positive mood and see what the final result is.”
When asked who has surprised him this season, he only had one answer, and it is the team that has dominated the 2014 season to date – Mercedes.
“Probably Mercedes has surprised everybody,” stated Alonso. “When we were at the Jerez and Bahrain tests with these new cars and very complex technology that we were all struggling with, they were straightaway quite OK and obviously in 9 races, they won 8 and they’ve always been on the front row so probably that is the biggest surprise in this year. It’s also motivation for us because we can do a much better job. We’re making some progress, but we need to get on top of the problems and try to arrive to their level.”
Team-mate Raikkonen has not had the best of luck in 2014 so far, and missed out on points last weekend in Germany after losing part of his front wing in two incidents heading into the hairpin – one in a clash with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, the other with Vettel. He is hopeful that he has a good feeling driving his car this weekend to try and get a positive result to take into the mid-season break that follows this Grand Prix.
“Hopefully, we’ll get that good feeling and get the car where we want and just have a clean weekend without any issues in any practices and can try things where we want,” said Raikkonen. “Even though it’s twisty and people say you can’t overtake here, we’ve seen in the past that it can change a lot in the race after qualifying so we’ll see how it goes.”
“There’s sometimes a good feeling and unfortunately it doesn’t last long, but last weekend was a better feeling again, we changed something in the car so hopefully that will put us in the right direction and we can get to where we should be.”
“I have 100% belief in the people in the factory and I know that we have the tools and the people to do the job we’re supposed to do. I’m sure we can be where we should be, hopefully already next year. With Marco [Mattiacci], he didn’t have much knowledge of F1 when he came in but he has a smart head. I think he’s doing good work, making good decisions, but it takes time to get involved and get people’s trust but I think he’s the guy we need.”
Technical Director James Allison was happy with the team’s performance in Germany even if Raikkonen was not able to join Alonso in the points. He is expecting a tough Hungarian Grand Prix, with cooling and the Energy Recovery System likely to be affected by the high temperatures at the Hungaroring.
“It was good to bring Fernando home a little bit ahead of where he started in Hockenheim,” insisted Allison. “Sunday’s race was exciting for us because there were lots of close-fought battles, plenty of overtaking and as far as we were concerned, lots of little dramas for us to manage, arriving at the finish line having monitored fuel consumption and the ERS system, all while keeping an eye on the ever present threat of rain during the race.
“However, it was disappointing that we didn’t manage to get Kimi into the points even if some of that was down to the damage sustained to his front wing earlier in the race.”
“It’s usually very hot which is a challenge for the drivers but also for the cars and their cooling systems,” confirms Allison. “The heat will most especially affect the Energy Recovery System, because it’s a short lap with no real straights and there will be a fair amount of energy passing to and from the battery. The track itself is usually very dusty and dirty for the start of free practice, but then evolves very quickly as the rubber goes down.”