Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso gloomily assessed in the wake of his unexpected Q2 exit during qualifying for this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul that such a result is 'what we deserve' given the current pace of Ferrari's F10 – and worse still, he predicted a 'defensive' race for the Scuderia
on Sunday, its 800th grand prix.
Having progressed through Q1 in ninth (Alonso) and eleventh (Felipe Massa) respectively, the Ferrari pair subsequently found themselves split in the second session, with the Brazilian placing fifth – and going onto claim P8 in the final top ten shoot-out – but his Spanish team-mate getting out-of-shape on his penultimate 'flyer' and subsequently failing to improve on his last effort, thereby winding up four tenths adrift of the sister scarlet machine and down in P12. All-in-all, not a good day – but equally, the Oviedo native contended, not exactly a bolt-out-of-the-blue either.
“Nothing strange happened – twelfth place is what we deserve from what we have seen today,” a downcast Alonso mused. “I did not have enough speed and, when there are nine drivers within half a second, as happened today in Q2, it takes an instant to be either fourth or twelfth – and in my case it was the latter. I don't think I could have done better today; I did practically the same time three times.
“Tomorrow will be tough and we will be racing defensively, but we will try and get the best result possible. I don't think today's weather, with slightly lower temperatures, had an influence on this result. Already in Q1, we realised we were not competitive at the highest level and that it would be difficult to get into Q3. The car balance is okay, as it was yesterday when we were quicker.”
“We were slower than our main rivals, so we will have to work very hard to get back to fighting for the top places and there can be no doubt about that,” agreed Massa, a three-time former winner in Turkey. “Even if this is a track I like very much, today I could not do any better than eighth place. The team and I cannot be pleased about it, but we have to react calmly and analyse the reasons that have led to this situation. Now we will concentrate on tomorrow's race; it will be tough but we will try and do our very best.”
Given that less than a handful of races ago Ferrari was being tipped in some corners of the paddock to go on to usurp Red Bull Racing's advantage and emerge as favourite to lift the F1 2010 World Championship laurels, the Prancing Horse's current situation is rather a fall from grace – and one from which, team principal Stefano Domenicali and chief track engineer Chris Dyer both equally acknowledge, the team must swiftly pick itself up again.
“A disappointing result for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix,” summarised the Italian. “Felipe was the only driver to get through to the final part of the session, but could do no better than eighth. Fernando was eliminated at the end of Q2, having set the twelfth-fastest time. These are certainly not the positions from which we would have liked to start the 800th grand prix in the history of the Scuderia
, but we have to be honest and admit that today, our performance did not live up to our expectations.
“We have to react immediately, starting from tomorrow's race, when we will try to bring home as many points as possible. Then we must accelerate the development of our car to be competitive at every type of circuit. Today, Felipe did the maximum, using all the potential available from his car and the tyres. Fernando did not have a perfect Q2 and missed the cut for the final part of qualifying; when the gaps are so close, it takes very little to be in or out.”
“It was a very frustrating qualifying for us,” agreed New Zealander Dyer. “We definitely expected a better result than this. The F10 was not quick enough to be competitive in qualifying while, at least from what we could see yesterday, over a distance the situation seems to be better. Tomorrow, we face an uphill race, but we must not take anything for granted and try to bring both cars home in the points. Unfortunately, both drivers will start from the dirty side of the track, which is a definite disadvantage.
“Felipe did a great job, managing to get into Q3 and getting every last possible fraction of performance out of the car. Fernando was right on the cut after his first run in Q2, and at the start of his second he did not get a perfect lap and then on the next lap, the tyres were no longer at their best.”