No change from Nurburgring to Hungaroring: another fourth and fifth in qualifying
Another fourth and fifth place for the two 150º Italia cars in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, this time with Felipe Massa setting the fourth fastest time and Fernando Alonso the fifth. Both drivers ran identical programmes with the Pirelli tyres: one set of Primes in Q1, one of Options in Q2 and two in Q3.
“Usually our rivals find something extra for qualifying and we make a step forward in the race: we will see tomorrow if this unwritten rule will also be confirmed at this track. I hope I have a car that is competitive, as it was in the final part of qualifying. Again this morning, I had too much oversteer and then, after making a few changes, it ended up the other way: we made a further adjustment to the front wing and the car’s handling was much better. It’s difficult to predict how many stops there will be: four is not impossible, three absolutely probable.
Much will depend on the length of the first stint: that’s where it will be clear which way to go for the following stops. What does it mean to me to be ahead of my team-mate for the first time this year? I am pleased, but what counts is being ahead of everyone and I hope we soon get some qualifying sessions where we are the best. Here I don’t think I could have got under the 1.20 mark: McLaren and Red Bull are very strong and will be so tomorrow. My only complaint is starting from the dirty side of the track: I know how penalising it can be at this track.”
“It’s the same result as a week ago, so yet again today, we’re neither surprised nor disappointed. It’s true I did not do a perfect lap in Q3 and I’m happy to admit that, but I don’t think I could have made it to the front row. Third place was within our grasp and it would have been a great place from which to start the race, but others did better than us, including my team-mate who drove a nice lap: it’s important that both our cars are in positions from which we can fight for a place on the podium.
All the same, better fifth than fourth as it means at least I start from the clean side of the track. It seems that when it’s time for Q3, Red Bull has a magic button that suddenly makes them go faster, but then it seems the button switches off in the race! It’s always very difficult to overtake here and I don’t think DRS will change that much: maybe a good tow and a gust of wind will be of more use. We will try and move up a few places tomorrow: we will need to maintain a good pace, doing a perfect job at the pit stops, of which I think there will be a lot, maybe three or four, because tyre degradation is significant. It will also be important to get the timing of the stops right. I reckon anything could still happen: it will be a very open race.”
We did not manage to put together the perfect lap with either driver
“When you see one of your cars at the top of the time sheet in Q1 and again in Q2, clearly you start to believe you might finally be about to take pole, but we knew it would be very, very difficult to achieve: Hamilton has been very strong all weekend and Red Bull always has something in reserve for Q3. We did not manage to put together the perfect lap with either driver and the logical outcome of all that is that we have ended up with the same result as in Germany one week ago.
We always have a bit more pace in the race compared to qualifying, but here too, overtaking will be very complicated. Historically, the start has been a very important moment at this track, as is the behaviour of the tyres. It will be a very unpredictable race, as indeed has been the case at almost all of them this year: whoever does the best job of working as a team will have the upper hand.”
We will have to be careful when choosing the right moment for the pit stops
“You could say this was a predictable result. We did not get all the potential out of the car, but it would not have changed much in terms of our grid positions. It’s true that compared to the start of the season, we have caught up quite a bit, but it’s equally true that, especially in qualifying, we still lack something compared to our closest opponents. We need to work more to improve our performance on a first flying lap, there’s no doubt about that.
From a technical point of view, we suffered particularly in the third sector: while being competitive in the first two, in the last one, we lost a few tenths too many. It was to be expected, also after what we saw last week in Germany in the first few corners of the Nurburgring track. However, tomorrow will be a very tight race, partly because I expect to see a lot of tyre changes. We will have to be careful when choosing the right moment for the pit stops, especially as overtaking on track will not be a walk in the park for anyone, even with DRS. We will try to do our best, aware of the strengths of our main rivals.”