Amid all the forecasts of a wet end to the 2011 F1 season, Ferrari's Pat Fry suggests that the Brazilian Grand Prix could be just as unpredictable in the dry.
Speaking after seeing his drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, qualify fifth and seventh respectively at Interlagos, Fry suggested that the fluctuating track conditions that have marked the weekend so far could be as influential as any amount of rain. Latest forecasts suggest an 80 per cent chance of precipitation at a circuit renowned for the occasional deluge over the years but, even if the race is only wet in parts, Fry warns that teams will need to be on the ball when it comes to monitoring their tyres.
"Given the weather forecast, we can expect an eventful race," he confirmed, "However, if it is run in the dry, then it will be interesting to see how the tyres behave, considering that the track conditions seem to change significantly even when there is not much of a big change in temperature."
Ferrari will have particular cause to keep an eye on the tyre situation, having been forced to use more than it wanted on Massa's car during qualifying.
"Felipe had to use an additional set of softs in Q2, which definitely penalised him in Q3," Fry acknowledged, "Taking into account that we did not manage to find a perfect balance on the two cars, and that here we have seen a Mercedes very much on the ball, we must look at this result as a glass that's half full, considering the gaps to Fernando of those directly ahead and behind him in the classification.
"Honestly, there's nothing much new to say at the end of the final qualifying session of 2011. We are aware we have the third best car in the pack - and the consequence of this is that, if nothing strange happens, then fifth place is the most logical result. Our aim will be the same as ever: to fight for a place on the podium, while trying to help Fernando to reach second place in the drivers' championship.”
Team principal Stefano Domenicali echoed Fry's call for attention, particularly if the weather predictions prove to be true.
"We go into this final race of a very long championship in the same way in which we have tackled the others - with concentration and determination aimed at getting the best possible result," he noted, "The weather forecast for tomorrow is for a high chance of rain," In that case, anything can happen and it will be crucial to react properly to any eventualities that might arise.”
Domenicali also confirmed Fry's assertion that Ferrari was probably heading for a best of fifth place in the race, unless something unexpected happened to those of the front two rows.
“If the numbers and the equation are always the same, there is no reason for them to deliver a different sum!" he explained, "We ended development on this car several months ago and everything we are doing now is aimed at next year. In the meantime, we are trying to squeeze out the maximum from what we have got, in order to finish this season in the best way we can. The outcome of that, therefore, is that, today, it was difficult to expect anything more than a fifth place, don't you think?
"Fernando gave it his all on his final lap, getting very close to the McLarens, but Felipe probably paid the price for having only one set of new tyres left to run in Q3. If he'd had one more, he would have also managed to make it onto the third row."