The Scuderia Ferrari team had one of its strongest outings of 2014 so far at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso taking second at the Hungaroring, with his Finnish team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finishing sixth. The result meant Ferrari took back third in the Constructors’ Championship from Williams.
Alonso made a tactical gamble to remain on a set of the soft tyres for more than 30 laps, and was very close to taking his first win of the season. He was leading the race with three laps to go, but was forced to concede the position to the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who was on much fresher tyres. He felt the team made some good decisions throughout the Grand Prix, but is realistic that in a normal race, P2 would not have been possible.
“This podium means a lot to me and the whole team, because after so many difficult races, we managed to get the most out of everything, also taking a few risks and second place seems like a win,” said Alonso. “To do 31 laps at the end on used Soft tyres was a great challenge. At that point, the strategy suggested that if we had made a third stop, we could have finished fourth, but we decided to run to the flag instead.
“This race shows that anything is possible when there are unusual conditions like today, with a wet start and the appearance of the Safety Car. We managed to make the most of all opportunities that presented themselves, taking the best decisions even at the most difficult moments. Sure, the characteristics of the circuit, with its limited overtaking opportunities, helped us and that’s why we have to be realistic and continue to work on the car, to improve in all aspects.”
Team-mate Raikkonen climbed from his lowly sixteenth place on the grid to take sixth, and like many others described the race as ‘difficult’. He bemoaned losing time stuck behind one of the Sauber’s early in the race, and then could not find a way past the Williams of Felipe Massa at the end, despite being on the faster Soft Pirelli tyres compared to the Williams’ Medium tyres at the end.
“Today’s race was difficult, but much more fun than the others, as I had a good feeling with the car, the pace was good and I felt I could push,” said Raikkonen. “After the way qualifying went yesterday, sixth was the most we could hope for. At the start, I got away well but then I lost vital time behind a Sauber and when I caught Massa’s Williams, I couldn’t get past: here in general, overtaking is not easy and we lack speed down the straights.
“Sure, this is a good team result, but we must not get too excited, because even if there are signs of improvement, we still have much work to do in a lot of areas to get to where we want to be. We’ve had a very complicated start to the season, but I hope the second part of the championship will go better. I have great faith in the team and I feel we are going in the right direction. Even if it’s going to take some time, I’m sure the results will come.”
Technical Director Pat Fry was delighted the team could show a cool head after a testing day at the Hungaroring in the changeable conditions. He knows there is a long way to go to be a genuine contender on race weekends, but the hard graft to get there will continue.
“After mixed fortunes in qualifying yesterday, today the team showed it could react extremely well and keep a cool head when faced with the variable situations that arose during the race,” said Fry. “It’s never easy in cases like this, with rain at the start, the Safety Car, having to avoid traffic and especially with having to keep faster cars behind us, but the team performed very competently. The F14 T demonstrated the good race pace it had already shown on Friday and that has helped us re-take third place in the Constructors’ classification.
“After the summer break, we come to two races that will be difficult for us, on two tracks where it will be important to make the most of any opportunity, just as we did today. On behalf of the team, I wish to congratulate Fernando and Kimi. We had promised them redemption and we were true to our word. We know that there is still a long way to go, but we will spare nothing in our efforts, continuing to work hard to improve, day by day.”
Team Principal Marco Mattiacci was pleased at the display his drivers gave in Hungary, but is keeping his feet on the ground, as he knows the unique layout of the track and the conditions were the main reasons for the two drivers securing top six results. He believes the team is on the right track, and they will not give up trying to close the gap to the teams at the front.
“It was a great race and very pleasing to see our team fight back from an extremely complicated Saturday,” said Mattiacci. “Kimi and Fernando demonstrated just what they are capable of and the whole team was up to the task. However, this result is just a step on a journey, which started a few months ago.
“Fernando’s second place is a confidence booster and a sign that the major effort everyone is making to bring Ferrari back to the top is moving in the right direction, however we have to be realistic about it. Here, the weather and the track conditions levelled out the performance differences and that’s why we must not delude ourselves. Now we must just go back home, set on always doing better.”