Chinese GP - Two 150° Italias on the third row: qualifying matches our potential
The two 150° Italias will both start the Chinese Grand Prix from the third row of the grid tomorrow, with Fernando Alonso fifth and Felipe Massa sixth. It was a very busy qualifying session, with a red flag in Q2 and a very closely fought battle to get from one section to the next. Both drivers used one set of hard tyres and three of the soft.
“First of all on behalf of the whole team, I want to express our delight at the positive progress in the condition of Paolo Santarsiero, one of our mechanics who fell ill on Thursday with an aneurism in his head and was subsequently operated on at the Rui Jin hospital in Shanghai: I wish to thank the entire medical team who acted so promptly and efficiently in carrying out the procedure. Incidents like this make one realise what the priorities really are in life and puts everything else into perspective.
We are here to race and to try and be the best in our sport but, at the moment, we are not there
Having said that, we are here to race and to try and be the best in our sport but, at the moment, we are not there. Here we saw gaps similar to the first two qualifying sessions of the year and we could not have expected anything different, given that our car is practically unchanged. We definitely can’t be happy about it, but we must try to close the gap and do our utmost in this very difficult period. In Australia and Malaysia we saw that our race pace is not bad compared to the others, apart from that of the championship leader, so we will see what happens here.”
“I had not expected much more than this from qualifying. Fifth and sixth places represent the maximum we can aspire to in our current situation. We already knew all about Red Bull and McLaren, but here we saw an improvement from Mercedes, so the situation is now even more difficult. We are trying to improve our performance: we are a great team and we know how to react. Yesterday, we tried some new components, but it is still too early to use them in a race: we hope to make a significant step forward in Turkey.
At the moment we should not be trying anything clever, instead keeping things simple
I would give the team 10 out of 10 for how they managed qualifying over these first three races: it is always very difficult to find the compromise between the need to take risks and being prudent and we have already seen mistakes costing some drivers dear in these three sessions. At the moment we should not be trying anything clever, instead keeping things simple. I think the podium is still within our reach.
This year there are more variables, like the tyre degradation and the use of the moveable rear wing, which come into play during the race, as we have seen in the first two Grands Prix. It could be a bit warmer tomorrow than today, so we will see if that changes anything, although I don’t expect it to. Strategy will be very important in determining the final result.”
“It went a little bit better than in Malaysia, but we are still behind. Vettel’s performance is not surprising, whereas Webber’s definitely is. The McLarens are also quicker than us and Mercedes has improved and will be a very tough competitor tomorrow in the race. In Q2 after the red flag, I went out immediately to try and be first out and get a clear track. Perez was ahead of me but I passed him on the out lap and it was a good thing, because that meant I got a clean lap and improved my time.
I really hope we will see a repeat of the Malaysian situation with a performance jump from qualifying to the race: if that was the case, then a podium might not be out of reach. The track has improved a lot compared to yesterday: there is more grip and the cars slide less, thus using the tyres less and that will be a factor to take into consideration when working out the ideal strategy.”
Tomorrow’s race will be very long and difficult
“Going into qualifying I would have said that the third row was the best we could aspire to because there are at least two cars that so far have proved to be quicker than ours. Today we saw that the Mercedes has also made a step forward and, honestly, we did not have sufficient pace to get ahead of it and we made the most of the opportunity that presented itself with Webber being eliminated in Q1.
With both Felipe and Fernando we used the same programme in terms of tyre management and the series of runs: with our current level of performance we have to maintain a realistic and modest approach because we have seen that taking risks does not pay off. Tomorrow’s race will be very long and difficult and we will try to make the most of every opportunity.”
|Q1||Fernando Alonso||3rd||1.35.389||8||Felipe Massa||4th||1.35.478||8|
|Q2||Fernando Alonso||5th||1.35.165||7||Felipe Massa||6th||1.35.437||7|
|Q3||Fernando Alonso||5th||1.35.119||3||Felipe Massa||6th||1.35.145||3|
Weather: air 17/16 °C, track 21/20 °C; covered skies. Chassis: Alonso 288, Massa 289