The Scuderia Ferrari team secured a double points finish in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, although Fernando Alonso could only finish sixth, a full minute behind race winner Lewis Hamilton, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen a further eighteen seconds behind down in ninth.
Alonso could only finish sixth, and was forced to hold off the challenge of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo for a number of laps to secure his position. He admitted it was a relatively uncompetitive weekend for the team, and was hindered by the need to manage the fuel consumption that seemed particularly high in Russia for a number of teams.
“Today’s race followed the pattern set in the earlier part of a weekend in which we didn’t manage to be competitive, even if the car worked well from start to finish,” said Alonso. “The entire race was particularly demanding from the point of view of managing the fuel consumption and especially in the closing stages, I had to save fuel. During the pit stop, the front jack didn’t work, but I think that even without this problem, I’d have finished in the same position, because the McLaren’s were faster.
“We took a risk at the start because we knew it was an opportunity to make up some places, but after that, my race pace was what we’d seen to date and it wasn’t possible to do any more.”
Despite only picking up eight points, Alonso insists the team will continue to strive to secure third place in the Constructors championship ahead of Williams, although his primary thoughts are with Jules Bianchi.
“We have not picked up many points, but we will continue to give it our all in the last three races, because third place in the Constructors’ championship is still a possibility,” said Alonso. “At the moment, the most important thing is to get some good news about Jules as soon as possible.”
Team-mate Raikkonen could only finish ninth behind the two Red Bull’s after finding him squeezed towards the wall on the opening lap by one of the Toro Rosso drivers, and although he felt the car handled the track well, a lack of straight-line speed cost him dearly as it meant he could not overtake the drivers in front of him.
“We knew we could expect a very demanding race and that starting from far back it would not be easy to move up the order, but at the start we did very well,” said Raikkonen. “Unfortunately a Toro Rosso squeezed me towards the wall once we were on the straight. Because I had to brake hard, various cars passed me and I lost any chance of having a good race, because from then on I was always stuck behind other cars.
“The car handled well and with a clear track I had a good pace, but we lacked top speed with which to try and overtake on the straight and having to save fuel meant I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted to. We are aware that this year it’s hard to fight for the top places, but all the same, we will continue to try our best, starting with the very next race in Austin. That track is very demanding and interesting and I hope I don’t have the same problems I had here, so that I can aim for a good result.
“However, what I wish for most is that all our prayers help Jules at this difficult time.”