“Both Felipe and I have done so many kilometres in the simulator, and we feel that the updates being introduced will see us make progress in terms of performance. Whether or not this will be enough to close the gap to the best, we will only find out over the weekend, because we cannot ignore the fact that the others have not been twiddling their thumbs. We will see who has been the cleverest in the development championship. It would be nice to jump on the podium again and be able to salute all our fans from there – and we will be giving it our very best shot.”
Massa, for his part, lapped seven tenths slower than Alonso on Friday in Barcelona, with the Brazilian bedevilled by tyre issues that ultimately resulted in a trip into the gravel trap – and fearing that 'there's still a crucial gap to our main rivals'.
“That wasn't an easy day for me,” reflected the 2008 world championship runner-up. “I had lots of problems getting the tyres to work, especially the hard compound, and I didn't manage to put together a good time – there's a lot of work to do in this area. When I went off the track, I lost the rear and I ended up in the gravel; I passed very close to the barriers but fortunately I didn't touch them, so I managed to make it back onto the track without damage.
“Still, [the 'off'] was a pity, because the new parts that we've brought here have improved our performance, even though the other teams remain very strong – there's still a crucial gap to our main rivals. Now, we must make the right choices to prepare as best we can for qualifying and the race.”
“A lot on the menu today,” summarised Ferrari's assistant technical director and head of racetrack engineering Pat Fry, “and an initial reaction would be that first impressions are positive. We had a lot of new components to test; as always in these situations, some worked well, others less so and now it's a case of putting together the jigsaw puzzle with the best pieces available. We also tried new aerodynamic concepts to assess how useful they might be.
“All-in-all, I think we have made progress in terms of performance, even if it is difficult to specify exactly if and by how much we have closed the gap to the quickest. The aim is to improve our performance in qualifying and also make progress in terms of our race pace, working down the same route we have taken for the past few races. It will not be easy to succeed, but we are confident.
“Compared to what we saw in winter testing, even taking into account the fact that temperatures are much higher now, tyre degradation seems very high – in fact, I reckon the pit-stop crew will have a lot of work to do on Sunday afternoon...”