Fernando Alonso reckons Ferrari is looking pretty strong for the F1 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix following practice today at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Although the Spaniard reckons it will still be difficult to fight for pole position or the win, he was happy with car during his running on Friday, and having been fifth in FP1, he improved in FP2, ending the day in third place overall.
“I did not have anything new to try today so we concentrated mainly on a comparison of two different levels of aerodynamic downforce and on assessing the new Pirelli tyres for 2012. As usual, it's difficult to say where we are compared to everyone else, because there are always plenty of unknowns on Friday. I don't think I'll be fighting for pole or the win, but the first impressions are that we are in ever so slightly better shape than we had expected to be going into this weekend,” he remarked.
“The track had improved by the second session, which was partly down to the lower temperature: at lunchtime it was really hot on the track! With the Soft tyre we definitely feel comfortable, but also with the harder compound, we did not look so bad, as indeed we have seen in the last few races.”
Despite his optimism though, Alonso was annoyed to miss the final part of FP2 after going off at turn 1 and into the barriers.
“Just as was the case in India a fortnight ago, again here in Abu Dhabi, I lost a bit of time: there it was the engine that left me standing at the side of the track and here it was an off-track excursion. It's not that there's a particular problem with grip at Turn 1, but if you touch the kerb when braking then you do lose some grip,” he added. “As for me and [Sebastian] Vettel both going off the track at the same point, I saw a lot of similarities: maybe tomorrow, we will try and stay a bit more towards the middle of the track without going so near the limit at this corner!
“I am annoyed about losing some time, but above all, I am sorry for the mechanics who now have extra work to do to put the car together again. I will try and repay them with a nice lap tomorrow evening in qualifying.”
Felipe Massa meanwhile trailed his team-mate in both sessions, although encouragingly for the Brazilian, at the end of the day he was just 0.009 seconds slower.
“They were two good sessions for me, but that does not mean much in terms of qualifying,” Massa warned. “Two weeks ago in India, I was fastest on Friday afternoon and then things went the way they did. Having said that, I am reasonably happy with how the last two races panned out in terms of speed and pace.
“Obviously, I can't say the same about the final results, because something always happened to me in the races: let's hope it will be different this time. I am sure it will: the important thing is to continue doing a good job, always being quick and then things will sort themselves out.
“The helmet livery? The design celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Ayrton Senna taking his third title and the helmet will be auctioned to raise money for the Foundation that bears his name: I am honoured to be able to do something to support all the initiatives they work on. The vibrating front wing? Honestly, while I'm driving I am not aware of anything, the car always behaves the same way without any problems.”