Fernando Alonso has expressed his concerns that a wet German Grand Prix on Sunday – as has been forecast – could end up being all about 'survival', fearing that should the heavens indeed open, it would reduce Ferrari's chances of victory at the Nürburgring.
Having been tipped to be the Red Bulls' closest challenger following his superb Silverstone success and his pace throughout practice in Germany, Alonso ultimately had to give best not only to pole-sitter Mark Webber and team-mate Sebastian Vettel in Q3 at the Nürburgring, but also an inspired effort from former nemesis Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren-Mercedes.
That left the Spaniard just fourth on the grid, but he insists he is not disappointed, and that the third-of-a-second deficit to Webber is roughly what he was anticipating. Ferrari is in the ballpark, he feels; the only possible fly in the ointment now might be the elements...
“We are neither surprised nor disappointed, quite the contrary in fact,” the 29-year-old reflected. “This grid is more-or-less what we could have expected, from what we had seen in free practice yesterday. We thought the Red Bulls would be three or four tenths faster than us, and that was the case and then even Hamilton went very well, especially in the first sector and got in-between us. Yesterday, McLaren were testing their new parts and they were not so good in the times at the end, but they are very competitive and today they showed it.
“We're still improving the car; the new parts we brought here are also very positive – the car feels better-and-better every time. It's not that our competitors are looking at the TV in the 15 days between the two races, though – everyone is improving. We know McLaren brought a big aero package here, Red Bull as well. It's a competition also outside the races [as to] which team is quicker in developing the car as well.
“No surprises, I think. I am happy with my lap and with the result and anyway, this year we have seen that we have always gone better in the race than in qualifying – so be fourth is a very good position for us, and in the race tomorrow maybe with rain forecast, anything can happen, so we will attack for sure.
“Let's see what the weather will do tomorrow. If it turns out to be dry, then we can claim to have a 25 per cent chance of winning, and a bit less if it rains, but only because so far, in the wet others have been better than us. [If it rains, though], I think the race is very open – you never know what can happen in a wet race; maybe the situation could turn around.
“Tyre temperature will be an issue, because already we have problems with dry tyres, and if it's wet, with 11ºC ambient temperature, I don't know how we will put heat in the tyres. It's the same for everybody, though – it's a race to survive tomorrow.
“I am still aiming for the podium, but if the chance of a win comes along, I won't need to be asked twice. Also, at this track, we have seen the updates we have introduced helping to improve our performance, race-after-race. Clearly, we must take a further step forward if we want to be up there with the best.”