Fernando Alonso reckons Ferrari will be able to put Red Bull Racing under a 'bit of pressure' tomorrow during the F1 2011 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the ninth round in the championship.
Alonso will start the race from third on the grid, but despite again being behind both Red Bulls, he was delighted the gap to pole was only just over one tenth of a second and he is confident the Scuderia have made a step forward – although those of a more cynical disposition might say the only reason the Maranello-based outfit have suddenly found so much speed was due to all the off-track shenanigans involving the engines [see separate story - click here
“I think that was the best qualifying of the year in performance terms,” said Alonso. “It's true that the actual result was better in Canada – second – but I was further off pole position than I am today. Furthermore, we are at a circuit that definitely does not suit the characteristics of our car and to be just over a tenth off first is a great sign.
“The new parts we introduced here worked well and I think that tomorrow, we can put those who start in front of us under a bit of pressure. The team has done so much work and this step forward is down to them. We have also made progress in the way we manage the tyres: from what we could see in the few dry laps we did today, we can even make the hard tyre work, while back in Barcelona they lost us a lap in less than half a race distance.
“Tyre performance will be very important tomorrow, whether as forecast it's dry, or wet, which can always ambush you here. We will have to be ready for any eventuality: it will be important to get a good start, which constitutes the only really new element at this track compared to the past. Am I hoping for rain? No, especially for the fans who have already got wet for the past two days. Let's hope we can put on a great show for this very large crowd.”
Felipe Massa meanwhile also did quite well and while he was more than half a second slower than his team-mate, he will still start from the second row in fourth place.
“I'd say this was a good qualifying for us: to be third and fourth on the grid is a nice result, especially when compared to some Saturdays earlier in the season,” he added. “In Q3, at first I did not get a good lap, making a few mistakes: I thought I could make up for it on my second run, but the rain arrived and it was no longer possible.
“Fourth place is therefore positive, especially as I was able to keep both McLarens behind me. From what we can see, the car seems competitive. Sure, we don't have much to go on, especially on full tanks and in terms of how the tyres will perform on a long run. It will be a bit like racing in the dark with so many things only coming to light during the race.”
Massa also insisted that Ferrari's progress is genuine: “How much was our performance affected by the new rules concerning the use of exhaust gases?” he pondered. “All the cars, ours included, have lost aerodynamic downforce to some extent, some more than others, but I would say that the progress we have made compared to the others owes more to the updates we have introduced. How else can one explain the fact that, for the first time this year, we have also managed to get the Hard tyres to work in a correct fashion.”
“An encouraging qualifying, especially in terms of our performance,” concluded Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali. “Coming this close to pole at a track which, on paper, looks like a tough one for us, is a positive step and a good basis from which to start our work for the future, both in the short and long term. I say this because we have worked so hard these past months to make up a very big gap and, step by step, we are getting there.”