Fernando Alonso has admitted Ferrari have a lot of work still to do after practice on Friday at Interlagos.
The Brazilian Grand Prix is crunch time for Alonso and the Scuderia and with Sebastian Vettel 13-points ahead in the drivers' championship, Sunday's final round in the F1 2012 World Championship will be crucial.
Alonso was fifth fastest this morning in opening practice, 0.275 seconds off his title rival, and it was a similar story in the second session too, with the Spaniard again fifth and this time 0.292 seconds off the Red Bull.
“It was very hot out on the circuit today and, especially this afternoon, the track temperatures were well above normal, even for this circuit. We have not yet found the ideal balance on the car, so there is still a lot of work to be done with the engineers going into the rest of the weekend,” he confirmed.
“The predictions are for very different conditions from Saturday to Sunday, further reason to concentrate on the best choices when it comes to preparing the car for qualifying, but especially for the race.
“After so many Fridays, there is nothing much new to say about the tyres: the Hards appear to be more consistent, while the Mediums produce a quicker lap time.
“It's hard to say if we prefer rain or the dry: as I said before, it is vital to be prepared to tackle both situations. We know we have to score 14 points more than Vettel for the Championship and not lose the same number to McLaren to maintain our second place in the Constructors'. Our targets are clear, but also difficult to achieve.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa meanwhile was sixth fastest in FP1 and fourth in FP2, but unlike Alonso, he seemed more upbeat.
“A very busy Friday in terms of our work on track, with a lot of kilometres completed to find the best set-up for the car,” said Massa, who will be extra determined to do well in front of his home fans.
“I am reasonably pleased with my times, especially when it comes to pace over a long run: I think I was the fastest man on track in the final part of the session. On my first lap with the Mediums, I lost a few tenth at the second corner, so, in terms of an outright time, I could have done even better than fourth place.”
“We have reached the very tight finale and today it was important that we managed to complete our entire planned programme: we did it and that is already a first, if small positive step,” summarised technical director, Pat Fry. “We worked this morning on evaluating various aerodynamic solutions, while in the afternoon, we concentrated mainly on a comparison of the two types of tyre brought here by Pirelli. It's always difficult to assess the hierarchy in the pit lane on a Friday and today was not different.
“From what we can see a few minutes after the end of the session, we can say that we are reasonably competitive, especially over a long run. But we are well aware that, in order to reach our objectives, first and foremost we will need to be perfect in everything we do and be ready to exploit whatever opportunity might come our way. It's not just the Drivers' title that's up for grabs, as there is also a second place in the Constructors' classification which is actually something quite important for us.”