Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso endured a rather turbulent build-up to the 2012 F1 Italian Grand Prix today, with no less three technical problems conspiring to limit the amount of time he spent out on track during practice.
Despite that though, the Spaniard was still right on the pace, posting the fourth best time in P1 and the third best time in P2. In the end he finished just 0.058 seconds off Lewis Hamilton, who was quickest for McLaren. Furthermore with Felipe Massa notching up 70 laps in the sister car, he reckons they have ample data for qualifying and the race. He also believes the Scuderia are closer to the front than they were in Belgium and the times certainly seem to support that view.
“Today almost everything happened, with various mechanical problems and we did not manage to test everything we wanted, but all the parts that failed can be changed and thanks to Felipe [Massa – my team-mate] we have all the information we need to do well in qualifying and the race,” Alonso maintained. “Even if today was complicated, it was still positive and it's good that everything happened today, because we must try and avoid any problems tomorrow and Sunday.
“I am optimistic about the car balance, which we did not have to change between FP1 and 2. I expect we will see different strategies in qualifying because there seems to be very little difference between the Medium and Hard tyres. In the race we will have to use both and so in the end it balances out.
“Compared to Spa, here we are on the pace, maybe we have a bit more downforce and make up a bit of time at the two Lesmos and the second chicane, while we are losing out in the first sector with the two long straights. We will analyse these details this evening and tomorrow we will try and improve also in terms of top speed, which was probably our weak point today.”
Massa meanwhile was happy with his car and he set the fifth best time in P1 and the fourth best time in P2, only 0.082 seconds off the sister F2012 of Alonso.
“A very positive day because I managed to make the most of the track time, completing all the programme we had planned for this Friday,” Massa added. “I did a lot of laps on both types of tyre, in the morning and the afternoon, including a long run to evaluate the handling as well as possible.
“At the moment, there doesn't seem to be much difference between the two compounds in terms of performance, as we could also see from the other drivers' times, but we will have to see how it goes tomorrow, because the difference could become greater as the track conditions improve, which will be an important factor for qualifying and the race.
“I am also pleased with my lap times, as I was always up there with the quickest cars in both sessions.
“We will be trying to improve the car set-up still further tomorrow, but I am confident for the rest of the weekend. I am very pleased to be here in Monza in front of our fans and I really hope that this positive day is the right start to get a great result for them!”