F1 » 24 March 2012
Domenicali's relief at step in the right direction
Stefano Domenicali was cautiously encouraged after qualifying in Sepang, which saw Fernando Alonso up to ninth and Felipa Massa in 12th on the grid.
Conceding that qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix had been a case of damage limitation, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was nonetheless somewhat more upbeat than he might have been considering the storm of criticism that has been heaped on the squad over the last week.
"We should regard this result as a glass half full. We know that we are in difficulty in this early part of the season," he said. " All of us and our fans would like to see our drivers always in the fight for pole position, but if we do not have the potential to do so, then we have to do the best we can."
Under those circumstances, a ninth position in qualifying for Fernando Alonso (that should translate to eighth on the grid after Kimi Raikkonen's gearbox change penalty is applied) was a decent showing, especially considering the former world champion was suffering with a KERS issue, the first the team have experienced in a while.
"I had a KERS problem on my only run in Q3, but I don't think it cost me any places, but it would definitely have made the gap to pole look more realistic," said Alonso afterwards. "It was a good qualifying, because I think we got everything we could out of the car.
"At the moment, this car has many problems, but as a result, it also has a big margin for improvement," he added, finding the silver lining in the gloomy clouds that have been gathering over Maranello in recent weeks. Alonso also denied rumours that the team were set to write-off the F2012 and introduce a substantially new car for the European leg of the season.
"A new car in Barcelona? No, there's no truth in that," he stated flatly. "Clearly we are pushing a lot on car development, which is as it should be, but in a consistent fashion with no revolutionary changes.
His team mate Felipe Massa has been most in the cross-hairs of the Tifosi frustrated with Ferrari's poor start to the 2012 season. Massa insisted that it didn't unduly add to the stress of the job for him. "Pressure? It comes from own will to always do the maximum," he said. "When I don't manage it, I am the first to be unhappy.”
Massa once again struggled to avoid elimination in Q1, but then had a reasonable Q2 to put the car in 12th place on the grid. "We know that, at the moment, we do not have a very competitive car: getting through to Q3 is very difficult and today I could only get close to this target," he admitted.
More importantly he was encouraged by the progress that he felt he had made over the last two days at Sepang, with the balance of the car much more to his liking in qualifying after a problematic time in the three free practice sessions.
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