Sixth fastest time for Fernando Alonso and fourteenth for Felipe Massa: that was the outcome of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, the race that opens the second part of the season. The Spaniard got through to Q3 with just one set of Option tyres available, having used one in Q1 after a first run on Prime and another in Q2. Felipe did not make the cut out of Q12, but at least he will have a set of new Options for tomorrow’s race.
Stefano Domenicali: “More than ever this afternoon, one has to be very careful when assessing the result of qualifying. The three sessions threw up a lot of surprises and a decidedly unusual grid. Sixth place for Fernando is a good basis on which to build an equally good race tomorrow afternoon.
Sunday will be tougher for Felipe, who starts from the seventh row, but definitely not all is lost for him and a place within the top ten is within his reach and they would be important points in terms of the Constructors’ championship. There is no better track than this one to turn the hierarchy established on Saturday on its head, therefore it’s really impossible to make any predictions.
We must tackle this race with the same approach we have adopted so far, which means trying to make the most of the package we have and of any opportunities that come our way. Clearly no one can be too sure about race pace because yesterday, it wasn’t possible to run the usual comparisons on tyre behaviour over a long run: a further unknown in race that’s very hard to predict.”
Fernando Alonso: “This afternoon’s sixth place matches our average for this year’s qualifying sessions, which is 6.08 to be precise, therefore we shouldn’t be too surprised at this result. Usually, on Sunday we go better than on Saturday, therefore we can be reasonably confident about the race, especially in light of the fact that a lot of my closest rivals start behind me, while another one, Kimi is not too far in front.
If this result could be repeated tomorrow, honestly I’d sign for it now! Our aim is the podium, but I think a win is not within our grasp. It’s true it is a very open race, partly because overtaking is relatively straightforward on this track. The fact we don’t have data on tyre life is not penalising, as we are all in the same situation.
Anyway, we know both compounds well so I don’t expect any problems on this front. More significantly, clearly the fact we could not run much yesterday meant we could not optimise various aspects of the car, but in this case too, everyone is in the same boat. In fact, that could explain the difference in performance between drivers from the same team.
The updates we introduced brought a benefit in terms of top speed, which is positive, also for Monza, where we race in a few days time. The championship is very close and if you don’t do everything perfectly, you find yourself down the back. That’s why the smallest things matter and we always try to be super concentrated on the very smallest detail.”
Felipe Massa: “Already this morning, I was struggling a lot in the second sector and, after the third free practice session, we made some changes to the configuration of the car, which unfortunately, did not change the situation much. I can’t manage to drive properly in that part of the track. I can feel the car sliding in the corners because of a lack of aerodynamic downforce.
Fernando also seemed to be suffering in some parts of the track, but clearly less so than me. In the first and third sectors however, I was competitive, both in absolute terms and when compared to my team-mate. Furthermore, precisely because of the difficulty I had in T2, I was a bit bothered about tyre degradation, especially as we had not managed to acquire date on their behaviour over a long run because of yesterday’s bad weather.
I definitely can’t be happy with today, but now the important thing is to concentrate on the race. Everything could still happen, especially on a track where overtaking is possible. On top of that, there are so many unknowns relating to the behaviour of the car so we cannot rule out any surprises.”
Pat Fry: “It’s never easy to tackle qualifying having had practically no running over the three hours on Friday. It’s true that this morning, the good weather had returned, but one hour is much too short a time, especially with so many new elements to test. We made a virtue of necessity and took certain decisions based on the data we managed to gather and on what our simulation was telling us, but clearly we were not able to optimise the whole package.
This track – like the one in Monza where we race next week – requires a rather unique level of aerodynamic downforce, which moves away from what is needed at the majority of circuits on the calendar. Therefore, it is relatively easy to see changes in the pecking order, especially in qualifying, and I think that was confirmed again today.
Last year here there were problems with blistering, but I think that Pirelli’s choice for this year has perfectly met our expectations and shows that the Milan company has done a really good job. I think tomorrow we will witness a very uncertain and interesting race, the outcome of which is very hard to predict. We will do our best as usual and, if we do not make any mistakes, we can aspire to getting a good result.”
Source: Ferrari F1 Team