Hungarian GP - The glass half full in Budapest
Twelve points for Scuderia Ferrari at the end of a weekend that was far from easy in terms of being competitive on track. Fernando Alonso finished fifth and Felipe Massa was ninth. Nevertheless, this result was enough for Fernando to increase his lead over his closest challenger in the Drivers’ classification to forty points. Felipe Massa is still fourteenth and the Scuderia drops to fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, albeit only a minimal four points behind the second placed team.
Stefano Domenicali: “Definitely a case of the glass being half full! Fifth place for Fernando has allowed him to extend his lead in the classification, which is a very important achievement on a weekend in which we definitely did not have the performance to fight with the best. It was a very hard race, decided for the most part by grid positions and the start, with the only variables concerning tyre degradation and the different strategies adopted. I think that, as far as the latter is concerned, we made the right choices, which resulted in Fernando getting ahead of at least two cars that were quicker than his. In fact, it was the start that had a negative effect for Felipe: the places he lost then could not be made up, despite having a race pace that matched those ahead of him. As I said at the start, the outcome of this weekend is not a negative one, but clearly we need to look closely at the way the weekend went as a whole to discover the reasons why we were not as competitive as in the last few races. Now we still have a week of work before the summer break: there’s a lot to do to reduce the performance gap and to be as well prepared as possible for the last two races still to be run in Europe. At Spa and Monza we will race in very different conditions and at very different tracks to Budapest, so anything can happen. It will be important to be ready for every eventuality. We will be able to take a breather for a few days, but I’m sure all our guys have just one thought in mind…”
Fernando Alonso: “It’s a positive result, no doubt about it. We knew this would be a complicated weekend because we were not quick enough, but despite everything, we managed to extend our lead over Webber. In terms of the championship it has therefore been a very good weekend. To have finished ahead of one Red Bull and right behind the other in these circumstances was very important because, on paper, we should have expected to finish seventh. Hamilton was out of our reach this weekend, but we did not lose much ground to Vettel and these are in my opinion, the strongest of the group that’s behind me in the championship. We made the right strategic choices: it’s true I lost a bit of time behind Perez and this cost me a place to Raikkonen, but the Finn was probably out of reach this afternoon. We have a lead of forty points, courtesy of a car that has not been the best in this first half of the season. Now we must try and make a good leap forward in terms of performance to allow us to keep the lead in the Championship, because in the long term, what we have now will not be enough. If we are where we are, it’s because we have always made the most of what we had and because of an excellent reliability record: it’s not by chance that you get 23 consecutive points finishes. July has been a tough and stressful month, with three races and a lot of work at the factory. Now I want to take a break for a bit and fully recharge the batteries, to show up again in Spa in perfect shape, in the hope that the second part of the season is as positive and productive as the first one. There are five weeks to rest and work, looking to the future, starting with two very demanding races at Spa and Monza.”
Felipe Massa: “My race was ruined at the start, when I spun the wheels, possibly because the clutch had overheated: that cost me two places which I then never managed to make up. Overtaking is really difficult at this track and, even if at some points in the second stint, I was stronger than Webber and Senna, I never managed to get the slightest chance to pass them. Therefore, this has not been a great race for me, but at least I managed to bring home a couple of points. At Silverstone and Hockenheim, our pace was a match for the best, but that was not the case here and this definitely made the whole weekend difficult. This first part of the season has definitely not been very positive for me, although today I certainly feel better than at the start and I’m sure the second half will be better. My contract? Until the situation is not clear, there’s nothing to say! I’m concentrating on doing well in the next races and that is my number one aim.”
Pat Fry: “It was a very difficult weekend, in which we were never able to fight on equal terms with the best. In fact, we know we have definitely not been the quickest in the first half of the season and so it was hard to imagine that we could have been here. At the Hungaroring, grid position and the start have a significant effect on the final outcome, because overtaking, despite the recent introduction of DRS, is still rare and difficult. Although Fernando started on the dirty side of the track, he still managed to make up one place by the end of the opening lap, first by defending at the start and then by attacking at Turn 2. Unfortunately, Felipe did not manage to make the most of being on the clean side of the grid and now we have to work out why that happened. Clearly that meant from then on, the Brazilian’s race was an uphill struggle, which was a shame as he still showed he had a good pace over a long stint. Fernando delivered his usual nice race which, partly down to the strategy, allowed him to keep his closest rival in the championship behind him, as well as getting ahead of one of the cars that had started ahead of him on the grid. We had two options – two or three stops – but we saw that degradation was not that bad, which meant that with Fernando, we were able to overtake at least two of the three top cars that had gone for the more aggressive strategy. We still lack performance and we must push even harder on developing the F2012 if we want to fight all the way to the end to reach our goals. We still have a week of work before taking a breather, but the fact we can pack Fernando off on holiday with a forty point lead is no reason to relax, quite the opposite in fact. There’s a lot of very strong competition who are just waiting for us to drop the ball and it’s down to us to disappoint them.”