Fernando missed out on the front row by just two hundredths of a second and Felipe was only seven hundredths off fourth placed Rosberg in the Mercedes.
Today’s qualifying was pretty much all about tyre management. At the end of the sessions, Scuderia Ferrari came away with a third place courtesy of Fernando Alonso and a fifth for Felipe Massa.
In Q3, nearly all the remaining ten drivers waited until there was less than three minutes to go, most of them doing just one run on new Softs, with the exception of Vettel in the Red Bull and Button the McLaren who did a single lap on the Medium.
Fernando missed out on the front row by just two hundredths of a second and Felipe was only seven hundredths off fourth placed Rosberg in the Mercedes. The German’s team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, took pole in a time of 1.34.484.
Fernando Alonso: “To end qualifying with both cars in the top five is a result that fills me with hope for the race. The F138 has been competitive all weekend and that means we have made a step forward, which is down to the work of the team. Some of the updates we had here worked as we had expected, but others need further work.
In terms of establishing what will be the best strategy, we will be in for a long night and that will be the case for everyone, given that almost all our main competitors will start on the Softs.
I’m not concerned about Red Bull’s choice and Mercedes usually has a higher degradation than ours. I’m definitely expecting an interesting race in which the biggest threat could come from Raikkonen as the Lotus has shown it manages its tyres well”.
Felipe Massa: “It was a good qualifying, with the car working well and being quick. To be honest, after my performance in the second and third free practice sessions, I expected to start in the top three, but it’s very likely that our competitors were running with more fuel and it’s also true that strategy counts a lot more than one or two places on the grid.
Today’s qualifying featured different choices: we preferred to use the Soft tyre right from the first run in Q1, because it looked complicated getting through to the next part with the Medium. That has allowed us to save them for tomorrow in a race that looks like being very closely contested and where as many as three stops might be necessary.
Today, our main competitors probably did better than us, but the race is long and anything can happen. Tyre management and tactical choices will definitely be the key factors”.
Pat Fry: “It emerged from yesterday’s free practice that the Medium would be the best tyre for the race, both in terms of its consistency and its relative degradation. During qualifying, it wasn’t a surprise to see how all the teams had decided to save this compound for the race, opting to use the Softs in all three legs.
In Q2, after our first run, it wasn’t easy to understand what time would be needed to get into Q3 and we preferred not to take any risks, doing a second lap. After this proved to be the safest choice, attention turned to possible strategies for the race and therefore whether to go with the Medium or to try for another quick lap on the soft tyre to be sure of getting a better grid position.
The latter option seemed the most sensible and that was confirmed when most of the teams did the same thing. I am expecting an unpredictable race because the cars at the front will have to stop first due to the degradation and the traffic towards the back could prove to be dangerous.
I am extremely pleased with the performance of Fernando and Felipe and I am also optimistic for tomorrow, even if I expect a difficult race in which strategy and tyre performance could play an even more important role than ever”.