Fernando Alonso believes that his third place in Chinese Grand Prix qualifying was an accurate reflection of Ferrari’s speed and that the Scuderia never stood a chance of beating Red Bull in the session.
The Spaniard was able to overcome Friday’s engine gremlins to outpace his team-mate and challenge for a place on the front rows of the grid. However, Alonso admitted that he was left in awe of the speed of the Red Bulls – labelling them ‘unbeatable’ in qualifying.
Meanwhile, Felipe Massa was disappointed with seventh on the grid, after making a mistake on the final corner of his final lap.
Fernando Alonso – 3rd: “At the moment, I’d say this result is an accurate reflection of our qualifying potential. The Red Bulls seem unbeatable, but it’s definitely not a surprise, because they are always strong on Saturday. I am happy with the way things went: third is a good place to start such a long race. We can do well and aim for a podium finish. Today, I was more comfortable on the hard tyres, as the soft ones were trickier to use. I am pleased with the benefits of the new aerodynamic package in terms of performance and it is thanks to these parts that I was able to take part in the press conference for the top three drivers. The team is working well, with a clear philosophy that it’s in the race that the points are given out, not in qualifying. If it rains, a lot will depend on when the tyres will need to be changed: getting it right, along with making the best tyre choice, can bring you the win, but if you get it wrong, you could lose everything. It’s hard to say where we are in terms of being competitive in the wet, because during winter testing, we were never all out on track under the same conditions and on the same fuel loads. However, in Australia, it went pretty well…”
Felipe Massa – 7th: “I’m a bit disappointed because I wasn’t able to do a clean lap on my last run in Q3. Unfortunately, I made a mistake at the final corner which lost me at least a few tenths. Up to that point, I was in line for a lap that would have seen me into the top five, but when everyone is so close, it takes very little to find yourself dropping down the grid. It might rain tomorrow, so there’s a chance it could shake up the order, but it is clear that starting seventh, it will be hard to fight for the top positions. In terms of race pace, we can hold our own, as was the case in yesterday’s free practice: the soft tyres seem to degrade more than the hard but maybe with a bit more rubber on the track, the situation could improve. It will be very important to get a good start and make up some places immediately.”
Stefano Domenicali: “Overall, we can be pleased with the way things went today. We knew the Red Bulls would be hard to beat in qualifying and that was the case, but Fernando, who did a great lap, managed to take third, which means he is in with a fighting chance tomorrow. A shame for Felipe, who did not manage to put together a perfect lap, which sees him relegated to the fourth row: in a championship in which at least four cars are all within a few tenths, it only takes a small error to find yourself in a position that does not match up to your potential. Tomorrow’s race looks like being very hard to predict. In this early part of the season, we have seen that over a long run, the pace of the F10 is very competitive and we will try and make the most of this characteristic. Furthermore, the weather is forecast to take a turn for the worse and we will probably need to be ready to tackle what could be a wet race.”
Chris Dyer: “A really great performance today from Fernando, who was able to get the most out of the car, putting himself in a strong position for tomorrow’s race. Some disappointment for Felipe, who was not able to put together his best lap in Q3, but there is still every chance he can have a good race. There is a high possibility of rain playing its part tomorrow: even if we don’t encounter the same extreme conditions as last year, it could definitely create some surprises and we must be ready to tackle every eventuality.”