Best result of the season in Valencia. Fernando second, Felipe fifth after attacking from start to finish
The European Grand Prix produced twenty eight points for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, thanks to a second place for Fernando Alonso and a fifth for Felipe Massa. It is the best result of the season for the Maranello team, which came at the end of a very closely contested race, as indeed had been predicted earlier in the weekend.
After eight races the drivers’ positions in the classification remain unchanged, with Fernando fifth and Felipe sixth and also the Scuderia is still third in the Constructors’ championship. The next round takes place on 10 July at Silverstone, at the circuit where Ferrari scored the first of its 215 Grands Prix victories sixty years ago.
“I was determined to get on the podium. In my trophy collection, the only ones now missing are from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and, naturally, India. I hope I can complete the collection by the end of the year! I was really pleased to taste champagne again, especially in front of this lovely crowd in Valencia, an amazing city where there is a great passion for racing. This result means a lot to me. It’s hard to see the grandstands when you are driving, but I could feel there was great enthusiasm when I passed Webber. This is a positive result for the whole team, as it confirms we are working in the right direction. Today, the first hundred metres were not that great but I knew that starting on the dirty side would cost me something: then I was lucky enough to find there was still a gap on the outside and I managed to make up one place on my grid position.
It was important to shake off the McLarens immediately, as they were slower than us today, which meant we concentrated on Webber and reached our objective. Then, when I was sure he was behind me, we tried to think about Vettel: you never know what can happen in Formula 1. The strategy paid off and sticking mainly with the Softs was the right choice. The Red Bulls are still significantly superior, but it was equally significant to stay close and stop them getting a one-two. We must continue like this, race after race. We know that, at Silverstone, it will be very tough because it is one of the tracks which best suits their car.”
“It was a good race spent constantly fighting other drivers. I tried to get the most out of the Option tyres because we reckoned that with the Prime, our pace was not at its best. It was a shame about the problem at my second pit stop, when I lost those four or five seconds which cost me the chance of fighting Hamilton for fourth place. I think that, from what have seen in performance terms, today we should have got both our cars ahead of the McLarens, and we only half succeeded in that. I got a very good start, passing Hamilton and Fernando. Then, I also tried to attack Webber, but he closed the door on me and we almost touched, so Fernando got the chance to go round the outside and pass me back.
I had a few problems with my second set of soft tyres, but with the next one, which was even more worn at the beginning, things went much better. In the end, even the Mediums were not so bad and I was able to do competitive times with them. Now we come to the Silverstone weekend. We will see if we will manage to confirm the progress that we have seen in the last three races. Also important will be what tyre choice Pirelli makes: clearly if they go for the Medium/Hard combination, it will be more difficult for us.”
Our only target has to be the victory- we are Ferrari after all
“Our only target has to be the victory- we are Ferrari after all – but today, all things considered, we can be pleased with this result. It was an exciting and very evenly matched contest: Fernando and Felipe drove great races, fighting right to the end with their main rivals. The Spanish driver, in front of his home fans, managed to end up ahead of a Red Bull to secure a fantastic podium finish. The only negative point came at Felipe’s second pit stop, which might well have cost him the chance of fighting right to the end with Hamilton for fourth place: but he too drove a strong race, especially from the start where he managed to make up two places and attack Webber.
Now, we must continue to push on the development of the car in preparation for Silverstone, where we want to confirm the progress we have made at a circuit whose characteristics are less suited to the 150º Italia. There, we will also find out if the technical changes recommended by the FIA regarding the use of the exhausts, which are to be introduced at that race, will change anything or not: everyone will lose a bit in terms of performance, so it’s a case of seeing who pays the highest price.”
The mechanics did a very good job, with stop times that were more than respectable
“Overall, it was a good race for us. Going into it, the aim of our strategy was to reduce to a minimum the number of laps we would do on the Prime, both because we did not know what to expect from them and because, from the little we could tell this weekend, our performance was not up to that of our main rivals. On top of that there was the traffic to consider and the fact we were not so sure that the effect of the DRS would be enough to overtake cars that were significantly slower. That is why we did not try to chase after the others, always pitting early, thus lengthening the final stint on the softs which, even though they were very well worn, were faster than the first laps on the Medium.
This decision paid off, allowing Fernando to get ahead of Webber to bring home a great second place. Felipe also drove a good race: it’s a shame about the problem with his left rear wheel nut at his second stop, which cost him precious seconds. As for the rest, the mechanics did a very good job, with stop times that were more than respectable. We are still not a match for the best in terms of outright performance and we must work a lot to catch them, especially at tracks where aerodynamic efficiency makes the difference. We are closing the gap but we have to do even more and everyone at Maranello is absolutely determined to achieve that goal.”