Fernando Alonso is expecting to be 'in the hunt' in the German Grand Prix, even though the Scuderia was not in a position to challenge for pole position.
Ferrari went tactical in the top-ten shootout - despite the fact Alonso's team-mate, Felipe Massa had been quickest in Q1 and Q2 - and ran both its drivers' on the harder medium compound tyres. With the rest of those setting a time in Q3 on the soft tyres, the Maranello-based outfit is now hoping to get pay back on race day, although as a consequence both Alonso and Massa will start on row four, with the latter ahead of his team-mate.
“The strategy we used today was dictated by looking at our average qualifying performance, given that pole is not yet within our grasp and the two scenarios were either starting fifth or sixth on the Soft tyres or start sixth or seventh on the Mediums,” explained Alonso, who qualified eighth in the end.
“We won't know the true worth of our choice now until tomorrow. [But] maybe here it's not too important to start from the front because the Soft tyre shows very high degradation and so, from lap 8 onwards the run of pit stops will begin and traffic will build up. At that point we will have to push like if they were all qualifying laps.
“All weekend we have been off the pace by an average of six tenths, but compared to Silverstone we can say we are back to normal, capable of fighting in the lead group. Of course, we still need to improve a lot, but in the race we think we can be in the hunt, without forgetting that, regardless of the tyres and the starting positions, it's the fastest who wins.”
Massa meanwhile is also hopeful the strategy will give them an edge, even if he did admit he really wanted to go for it in Q3: “In terms of performance, it was a good qualifying, even if we opted for a completely different strategy to the teams who are ahead of us on the grid,” added the Brazilian. “The car worked very well and with the Soft tyres, we were very competitive, more so than at Silverstone, where we suffered on both compounds, but even so, we could not have ended up any higher than fourth or fifth.
“When I saw I was first at the end of Q1 and Q2, I felt like I wanted to fight all the way to the finish, but based on the simulation we carried out during free practice, we felt our choice was the right direction to go in.
"It's hard to think we will be able to make up places immediately starting on the Medium tyres, but yesterday we saw that the Softs degrade after just a few laps and this could work out to our advantage. If the car handles well and we manage to have a good race, we could get a really fantastic result.”
“The comparison carried out yesterday between the Soft and Medium compounds opened the door to various possibilities, both for qualifying and the race and today's result is fully in line with what we had expected,” summarised Ferrari technical director, Pat Fry. “The decision to tackle qualifying thinking only about our race strategy was actually dictated by the difference we saw in terms of degradation for the two types of tyre.
“Overall, our car performance was good, even if it was affected by many factors, including the higher temperatures we saw today. Even though Felipe and Fernando were front runners in Q1 and Q2, we stuck to the choice we made at the start. We didn't feel it was a realistic target to fight for the front rows and we preferred to stick with our pace, trying a different strategy.
“Clearly, as always, tomorrow everything will depend on how competitive are the two F138s and how good is their pace. From one point of view, we feel that the high degradation of the Soft compound will force our rivals who are ahead of us, to make an early first stop and that traffic might then limit their pace, while we will be going for a longer first stint which should allow us to make up ground..."