Fernando Alonso looked at his fifth place on the grid while Felipe Massa will start directly behind his team-mate on the grid, from seventh.
Hungaroring – Our two drivers had a different view of qualifying today: Fernando Alonso looked at his fifth place on the grid as a glass half full, while Felipe Massa, who will start directly behind his team-mate on the grid, from seventh place is more of a glass half empty guy tonight.
Where both men agree is that tomorrow’s 70 laps of this demanding track will be tough on every element, be it man or machine. Even in cool conditions, this circuit never gives a driver a chance to pause for breath. So imagine what it will be like when all weekend, stepping out of the air-conditioned team hospitality has felt like opening the oven door to check that a roast dinner is cooking.
Both our battle-hardened drivers have enough experience to deal with whatever the race throws at them and, if you are not holding all the aces, then an unpredictable afternoon could work in favour of the F138. Clearly, the Prime Medium tyre will be expected to do the majority of laps and the teams have plenty of them, after almost all qualifying laps were done on the Softs, because of their extra turn of speed.
At this track, keeping pit stops to a minimum is usually the best way to go, to avoid the inevitable traffic one can run into, because even on quicker newer tyres, overtaking is extremely difficult. However, tyre life will be one of several unknown factors tomorrow, so being flexible in terms of how many stops and when to make them is also an important aspect for tomorrow afternoon.
At the moment, it would seem that if one wants to two stop, then starting on the Softs until pitting for Mediums around laps 15 and 45 might be the way to go, while three stoppers could opt to start on the Softs, then stop once again quite soon for another set of the same, with two more stops to run two sets of the Medium.
Some drivers will choose to start on the Mediums, but that isn’t an option for the Ferrari men who, having made it into the top ten, must start on the Softs with which they qualified.
From a championship point of view, Fernando’s main concern is that series leader Sebastian Vettel will start his Red Bull from the front row, but on the outside of Lewis Hamilton who secured yet another pole for Mercedes.
Romain Grosjean was third for Lotus, with Nico Rosberg completing Row 2 in the other Mercedes. Fernando finds himself on the inside of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Renault, while Felipe has the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo on his outside.
Fernando Alonso: “This fifth place is good news after a couple of difficult weekends in Silverstone and the Nürburgring and especially after seeing things improve compared to yesterday, when our race pace left us with even more doubts. Today, we were more competitive thanks to a change of set-up and some modifications on the aero side, done more with the aim of getting consistency rather than pure performance.
Traction and turn-in have improved and now we must look carefully at the start to try and make up a few places then and, on this front, the extra grip from being on the clean side should help. Here, it is hard to overtake in the race and so it’s even more important to try and make up ground immediately, particularly if we want to prevent Vettel from increasing his lead.
The strategy will be very open, the tyres are new for everyone and the high track temperature means we need to think of a strategy that can be modified at any moment. The podium is always our target and I feel we can fight for it, even though we know it won’t be easy with such strong competition ahead of us”.
Felipe Massa: “Today’s qualifying was extremely complicated and the result does not live up to our expectations: both myself and Fernando pushed to the maximum without making mistakes, but we were not able to fight for the front positions and got the maximum we could.
We are well aware of the fact that Saturday is still our weak point and for that reason, we must stay focused on a race that will not be easy, because the high temperatures will impact on tyre behaviour, on the car and on us drivers.
Overtaking is almost impossible here, unless the car ahead of you makes a mistake, but I hope I have a good enough race pace to make up some places and bring home the important points that we need”.
Pat Fry: “A difference of over a second between the performance of the two tyres made the choice for the three qualifying sessions relatively simple. The Mediums would not have ensured getting into Q2 and using only the Softs was the most sensible choice, as it also saved the harder compound for the race.
Looking at the gap of around five tenths to pole, we can say that, on a high downforce track like this one, we have returned to the situation we had got used to at the start of the season. Tomorrow, we can expect a very hot and demanding race.
It will not be easy to make up ground and the tyres will be put under a great strain by the track temperature, which is predicted to be over fifty degrees. Therefore we must be ready to tackle any unforseen situation. Let’s hope that starting from the clean side of the track can give us a chance to make up a few places, on a track which is notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities”.