The way qualifying evolved definitely did not follow the usual pattern, with just a single run for both drivers in each of the three sessions: in Q1 using the Prime, while switching to the Option for Q2 and Q3.
The reason for this strategy resides with the difficulty in finding the right operating temperature for the tyres at this track, a problem that affected the whole session.
Stefano Domenicali: “A disappointing qualifying that puts us in a very difficult position in terms of the championship, given that our main rival will start from pole position.
The main problem was linked to tyre performance, but let’s make it clear, the responsibility rests with us, because the tyres are the same for everyone and therefore it’s down to us to try and get them to work as well as possible.
We must analyse very carefully the way qualifying went, to understand what didn’t work but above all, we must concentrate on preparing for the race.
We have said it often, the sums are done on Sunday afternoon: clearly the outlook is not positive but we are well aware that the situation can be different in the race.
There are no reference points for a new track therefore the unknown factors are greater than usual: we have a duty to tackle every aspect to perfection.”
Fernando Alonso: “We never managed to put together the best lap, which on these tyres and with these track conditions is always the last one you do.
We knew it would be a complicated weekend but clearly today we were too slow and we will start from too far back. Having said that, the accounts are always done at the end of the race: also in Abu Dhabi we were slower than our main rivals and then we got back three points in the classification.
Our aim remains unchanged and it’s still possible: on Sunday all sorts of things can happen. Reliability, strategy – it will be important to work out when is the best time to pit because here, the cold tyres can be slower by several seconds – and team work will be as usual important.
The updates? We tried to find the best possible combination between all the parts we had available, as it’s not always the case that the latest part is the best choice, especially when you are at a brand new track.
We will push to the limit, as we have done since the start of the year at every race weekend.”
Felipe Massa: “This qualifying was pretty much a lottery: the lucky number is always the last one! With this type of tyre on this asphalt one struggles to get the tyres up to temperature and one has to lap continuously before being able to set a good time.
In Q2, we managed it, but in Q3 things did not go as well: it’s never easy to do the perfect lap with so little grip. It will definitely not be an easy race for us, given the grid positions of our main rivals, but we must stay focused because all the same, tomorrow will be hard for everyone.
We will have to do our utmost and then we will see how it goes. Starting from the dirty side of the track is definitely not helpful: it’s the first time we’re not happy about gaining a grid position!”
Pat Fry: “A very difficult qualifying, there’s no doubt about it. The tyre-asphalt combination created conditions that were very difficult to interpret and we probably struggled more than others.
We even tried to make the most of FP3 to prepare as well as possible for qualifying and now we must look at the data carefully to try and understand what didn’t work out as it should have done.
Clearly we can expect a very complicated Sunday, but there’s no point crying over spilt milk. We must just try and do our utmost to give our drivers the chance to run as good a race as possible.
From what we can see over these past two days, tyre degradation seems rather low, therefore it’s more than likely we can expect just one stop, so that’s probably one less variable in terms of the strategy.”