Alonso phenomenal: a perfect lap delivers fourth place
The best qualifying result of the season for a 150º Italia courtesy of Fernando Alonso
’s fourth place, while Felipe Massa set the eighth fastest time: that’s a quick summary of how qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix
turned out for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers. Both of them used the same number of sets of tyres: one prime and one option in Q1, one option each in the last two sessions.
“This sport never stops throwing up surprises! This morning we had the worst FP3 of the year, with both cars struggling a lot and then we find ourselves commenting on our best qualifying position. Certainly, this fourth place was down to an incredible performance from Fernando, who drove a simply stunning lap in Q3: it is further valediction, if one was ever needed, of why we have made the right choice in extending our relationship in the long term.
Felipe was unable to find the right way to go in terms of set-up and he will start from the fourth row. So far this year we have seen that our race pace is better than it is in qualifying: let’s hope it continues like this and that tomorrow we will manage to bring home a good result. It would be important for the team and for all our fans, of whom there are so many here, mainly down to the presence of Fernando.” Fernando Alonso
“I did a perfect lap: I reckon that if I tried to repeat it twenty times, I could not do better! When you do a lap like that it’s hard to put into words what one feels: always being on the limit, in every corner is a really special feeling for a driver. I am very happy with this result, because we have never made it to the second row this year. Sure, pole position is still a long way off: today, Red Bull was once again out of reach and we must work hard to try and get closer.
This morning we ran some set-up changes on the car that did not produce the results we were expecting, also partly down to the conditions changing in terms of wind direction. We went back to what we had before for qualifying and instantly it was better. In general, we have made a step forward in performance terms, thanks to the updates we have brought here. So far, in the races we have gone better than in qualifying and so I think we can be in the fight for the podium. It will be tough at the start because the McLarens always get off the line well and then they have one more new set of soft tyres than we do.”
“This was definitely not the qualifying performance we were expecting, but all weekend long we have struggled with the balance of the car: we would have needed to be perfect to start a bit further up the order and that was not the case. Let’s hope that, on full tanks, the car works better and then we can see if we can get a good result.
On a track like this it will not be easy to manage the tyres in the best way nor to find the best possible strategy. In Q2 we decided to stay in the garage, running the risk of not getting any further, because it would not have made much sense making the cut and then finding ourselves in Q3 without any new tyres: the outcome proved us right, even if we had hoped to make a better job of that opportunity. It is clear we suffer more than the others on the hard tyres. Overtaking? We will definitely see more than in the past at a circuit like this and that will mainly be down to tyre degradation.”
“A great lap from Fernando who managed to put everything together perfectly without even the slightest mistake. He was brilliant and this position is mainly down to him. We tried to manage tyre use in qualifying as well as possible, without taking risks at the start of Q1, before staying in the garage in Q2 so as to have the chance of a strong hand in Q3 with a new set of option tyres. We introduced a lot of new parts here, but the others have done the same and it seems the gaps have not changed that much: we have to do even better to catch up with the best.
A track like this favours cars that have a lot of aerodynamic downforce: that can be seen very clearly by analysing the best times in each sector. Our car is competitive in the first one, but we pay a very heavy price in the other two. That’s where we must improve. As for tomorrow’s race, a lot will depend on tyre life and on finding the right moment to change tyres. It will be a busy time in the pits and everyone will have to give it their best shot to be perfect and that includes the drivers.”