Fernando Alonso praised his Ferrari team, as the Spaniard notched up his first victory for the Prancing Horse in Bahrain.
Alonso was in superb form and after passing his team-mate at the start of the race, he quickly took advantaged of a faltering Sebastian Vettel to claim victory.
However, the double world champion is under no illusions about the season ahead, and stated that Ferrari must continue to improve if they are to sustain their title challenge.
Felipe Massa capped off a memorable day for Ferrari with a second place finish on his return to action.
Fernando Alonso (1st): “I want to dedicate this victory to President Montezemolo, who believed in me and to our mechanics who did a really great job, especially this morning, when they changed the engine on my car in a very short time. Jumping onto the top step of the podium was a special feeling and I hope I have matched the expectations of the whole team. We worked so much this winter and now we are beginning to see the results of that. The first races of the season are very important: we must get to the European part of the year with a lot of points in the bag and a high level of understanding of how the tyres work at various types of track. The key to winning will be to continue to develop the car race by race. Today, on the harder tyres, we went very well, but with the softer ones, I was struggling a bit to stay close to Vettel. I was planning to attack in the final ten laps, but luck gave me a hand: you always need a bit in every race. At the start, I got away well, making the most of being on the clean side of the track and I managed to pass Felipe, going for a space that was big enough to pull off the move without any risk. Then I was lucky not to have any problems with the car, while my team-mate had a more difficult time and had to ease up a bit. Now it’s time to think about Australia. We will see who has the best car at that track, but I think the four top teams will all be in the fight.”
Felipe Massa (2nd): “I am very happy with this result and I want to thank all the team and our fans. It is my best opening race of a season since I started in Formula 1 and, given all the problems we had, I am very pleased. We had to manage the temperatures on the car and, for around thirty laps, I was not able to push as hard as I could. At the start, I lost a place to Alonso, but then the car worked well with both types of tyre. With the softer tyres, the Red Bull was quicker than us, but on the harder ones we were much better. I want to thank one more time all those who have been close to me over these past months, writing and sending me messages. Now we must look to Australia to be as well prepared as possible.”
Stefano Domenicali: “A fantastic start to the championship! This amazing one-two is just reward for all the work of the team, both at the track and the factory in Maranello, over these past few months and I dedicate the result to them. Today, we had to manage a very complicated situation with Felipe’s car, because of the high temperatures, but we did it and I was very happy to see our driver on the podium on what was a very special day for him. As for Fernando, what can I say? There could be no better way for him to start his adventure in red! I also want to thank our technical and commercial partners, first and foremost Philip Morris and Shell, who have always supported us, even in the most difficult times and I think there is no better way to also welcome on board a new important sponsor like the Santander Bank. Now we can enjoy this wonderful day for a few hours, but as from tomorrow, we must start preparing for the next round in Australia, adopting our usual approach which involves keeping calm, with our feet on the ground and working hard. We have a very long season ahead of us, in which reliability will be crucial, as indeed we saw yet again today and where we will be fighting very strong and determined adversaries.”
Chris Dyer: “A fantastic result for the whole team. We worked so hard over the winter – in the wind tunnel, in the design office, the engine department, on track, everywhere -and today we reaped our reward. It was a great welcome for Fernando and an equally nice welcome back for Felipe: it would be hard to have asked for more in the first race. It was not an easy weekend, because we had to tackle a whole series of problems which we controlled thanks to the efforts of everyone at the track and back home, but I really hope we have fewer of them in the future. Because of the high temperatures, we were not able to run the race we wanted, but especially with Felipe, we had to adopt a very conservative approach, although I don’t think we were the only ones faced with that particular difficulty.”