Ferrari technical director Pat Fry says the team is staying realistic about its chances in Shanghai despite being pleased with the performance of changes made to the F2012 for the Chinese weekend.
A series of upgrades have been introduced for the weekend as Ferrari looks to improve the performance of its car, which has been masked somewhat by Fernando Alonso's shock victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Speaking following Friday practice, where Alonso was tenth and Felipe Massa 17th, Fry said he was pleased with the results of the changes but added that Shanghai wasn't a circuit that was going to suit the car.
“We have brought some updates here for the F2012 which should provide an improvement in terms of performance, compared to the first two races,” he said. “The first evaluation that we can make after these three hours of free practice is a positive one, but clearly we have hours of work ahead of us this afternoon and tonight to complete an in-depth analysis. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the fact that the characteristics of this track seem to be less suited to our car than Malaysia.
“Taking these two factors into consideration, I am not expecting anything new in terms of our positions on the grid: at the moment, our realistic expectation is somewhere between seventh and twelfth place, as indeed we were in Sepang. However, we have to bear in mind that it's all very close, so it only takes the slightest thing – a mistake, a less than perfect lap – to make for a significant change of position, either upward or downward.
“To those who ask me when we will see a Ferrari fighting for pole position, I can only reply there is no magic button we can press to improve the situation in one go. We need to push in many areas, starting with the aerodynamics which is still the decisive factor in today's Formula 1, while not forgetting our work methods, in order to get the results in the short term, but especially in the long term.”
While Alonso was insisted that the first day of running had been a 'normal Friday', Massa was less pleased with proceedings with the yellow flags caused by Timo Glock going off track hitting his chances of going quicker.
“You definitely couldn't define today as being fantastic,” he said. “This morning the track was a bit wet and that meant we weren't able to run as much as we would have liked, while in the afternoon, the track dried and we managed to get through our usual Friday programme. When I was on my first run on the soft tyres, Glock went off the track at turn one and I was forced to pit again: this meant I was unable to get the most out of this set of tyres and significantly improve my time.
“I am sure that it would have been much faster than the one posted on the classification: that bothers me a bit because I did not manage to use the soft tyres in the way I should have done. At the end of the session, we ran with a lot of fuel on board to improve the balance of the car.”