Fernando Alonso: "We know our strong points and the areas we must focus on to improve, but we must not overreact in trying to close the performance gap."
Sakhir – It was a day of mixed fortunes for Scuderia Ferrari as we witnessed the first ever night time session at this desert track, in preparation for Sunday’s third round of the world championship. Fernando Alonso had a relatively straightforward day to finish third in both sessions behind the currently unstoppable Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
It’s been well reported that the Finn is not yet finding himself at ease in the cockpit of his F14T and today his troubles were compounded by the fact he broke the floor of his car in the first 90 minute session, after a heavy landing on the kerb at turn 4. Time lost having to fix that added to his woes.
We have begun to know what to expect in night races now after the experience of Singapore and Abu Dhabi and today’s track action followed a similar pattern, with lap times dropping considerably in FP2, not just because of the track cleaning up but also because its temperature was 12 degrees cooler in the second session. Another clear lesson was that Pirelli’s Soft compound was producing significantly faster lap times than the Medium.
Completing the top six tonight were Daniel Ricciardo, fourth for Red Bull, Felipe Massa next in the Williams, with Jenson Button sixth for McLaren. Tomorrow’s qualifying takes place at the same time as did FP2, so the lessons learned and data acquired will provide useful pointers for the grid deciding session.
Fernando Alonso: “After many daytime races, it was really strange to be running here in the dark even if it was not very different to the other night time races, so we just have to get used to it. From this aspect, today was very useful, especially FP2, to learn about the behaviour of the tyres and the car. Even if we did a lot of running here in winter testing, now it’s like starting from scratch and one has to adapt to the new indications coming from the differing track conditions. We know our strong points and the areas we must focus on to improve, but we must not overreact in trying to close the performance gap. At the moment we must make steady progress while still keeping an eye on reliability, which has brought us a good points haul in the first couple of races, which is always very important.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Overall, this was a difficult day, because I didn’t feel comfortable with the car in either session. In the first one, I damaged the floor on the kerb at turn 4 and this meant I had to pit. The team did a super job, because they got me back out on track in a short time, but then, because of a problem with the brakes, I was unable to complete the programme. In the second session we concentrated on looking at the two Pirelli compounds and with the Soft it was definitely better than the Medium. Now we will get down to analysing all today’s data, especially regarding the immediate change in the track from day to night and we will try and improve for qualifying and the race.”
Pat Fry: “Today’s two sessions were very different to one another, as was predicted, partly because of the programmes we ran and partly because the track was cleaner in the second one. In general, the second session was more representative, just because the temperatures were more similar to what we can expect in the race. Work on both cars concentrated on set-up, aimed at improving stability under braking. In the earlier session, Kimi’s programme was interrupted when the floor on his F14T was partly broken after he hit a kerb at turn 4, but we had no problems with Fernando. Then tonight, we did a long run test and now we must look closely at tyre performance, which is a key factor this weekend along with fuel consumption. It will be interesting to see how the hierarchy will change between tomorrow and Sunday, because the technical characteristics of this track mean the gaps between some of the teams could close up.”