Alonso within a whisker of winning at Suzuka
Twenty four points in the bag for Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix, thanks to a second place for Fernando Alonso and a seventh with Felipe Massa. Both Ferrari men made three pit stops, running identical strategies in terms of their use of the Pirelli tyres: Soft in the first three stints of the race, Medium in the final one. After the fifteenth round of the Championship, Fernando is still third in the Drivers' classification, while Felipe is sixth. The Scuderia remains on the lowest rung of the podium in the Constructors' points table.
"Congratulations to Sebastian! Winning two world titles at his age, in a season in which he has done it all - in qualifying, the races and every other way, so perfectly, is amazing and it is well deserved. For our part, we can do no more than try and do our utmost to try and beat him next year. Today, we did our best and we came close to winning the race. We know that in qualifying we are behind the Red Bulls and McLarens, but in the race, when there are variables like tyre degradation, then we can exploit some opportunities. Here, the others were very strong for the first five or six laps and then we closed up to them a lot.
This podium is a great motivation for the final four races of the season. It was a fun race, in which the strategy was very important. Unlike recent races, today we had a pace that was good enough to fight for the win. We will try again in Korea, where we can go with our heads held high: we will try and win, or at least get on the podium again."
"Once again I finish a race with a very bitter taste in my mouth. Today, our pace was good enough to finish on the podium, as Fernando demonstrated, but instead I am here commenting on a seventh place. It's a real shame. The contact with Hamilton? My car was definitely damaged by it: when I looked at it after the race, I saw there was a bit of the front wing endplate missing and the floor was not on properly on the left hand side and I could feel it in the way my car was behaving.
I think the footage speaks for itself: he was struggling with his tyres and I had almost come alongside him and for no reason, he moved over and hit me. I let you be the judge… It's pointless for me to say any more about it. However, I do want to congratulate Sebastian Vettel: he is a great guy and deserves this title and I am very happy for him."
Our driver was always on the attack and came very close to a win
"First of all on behalf of the Scuderia, I wish to congratulate Sebastian Vettel on clinching his second Drivers' title: he has had an incredible season and this fantastic result is well deserved! As for us, I don't think it's out of place if, for the second time running, I use the adjective amazing, this time to describe Fernando Alonso's race today. Our driver was always on the attack and came very close to a win which would have been incredible, given our performance two weeks ago in Singapore.
All these changes of fortune in terms of who is competitive, confirm once again how hard it is to understand as well as possible the real performance of the car-tyre packages at each track. Felipe was also having a very good race, at least until the contact with Hamilton: the damage his car suffered in this incident probably penalised him excessively in the second part of the race. There are still four races to go this season, in which we will do our utmost to achieve the objectives that are still within our reach: winning again, taking Fernando to second in the Drivers' classification and learning as much as possible from this car with a view to 2012."
We were not able to make the most of our pace in the final part of each stint
"A great result today at Suzuka, especially in terms of how competitive we were on track. Fernando came very close to winning, getting the very most out of the equipment at his disposal, trying to attack at every conceivable opportunity. Felipe also drove a good race, but first he might have paid the price for a pit stop that was delayed by a few laps and then there was the contact with Hamilton: in the end he found himself in traffic and we have often seen this year how hard it is to pass a Mercedes, even if we have a better pace. We had a three stop strategy, aware that it would not be an easy one to manage given the rather high level of tyre degradation.
The Safety Car period gave everyone a hand and, for once, even the traffic helped us a bit, at least with Fernando. We were not able to make the most of our pace in the final part of each stint with the Soft tyres, because in any case it always costs you a bit pitting early, at least until the point at which you don't lengthen the final stint of the race too much. Here too, the performance on the Mediums was not that bad, also because we suffered a lot less from our traditional problem of getting the harder compound up to temperature. Now we will try to do the same again next weekend in Korea: it would be nice to get another win before the end of the season, but we know it will be difficult!"
Ferrari fans, check out our new sister site FerrariCircuit.com