Alonso relieved to start from fifth place in Hungary
27 July 2013
Fernando Alonso has made no secret in recent weeks of his belief that Ferrari are at risk of slipping out of the 2013 F1 world championship battle, and after struggling in Germany three weeks ago and at the three-day Young Drivers Test that was the first taste of new-spec Pirelli tyres he'd feared the worst heading to Hungary this weekend.
In the circumstances, then, Alonso was delighted to claim fifth place on the grid after qualifying at the Hungaroring, and said that this proved the team was more competitive than they had been at the last race.
"This fifth place is good news after a couple of difficult weekends in Silverstone and the Nürburgring," he said. "Especially after seeing things improve compared to yesterday, when our race pace left us with even more doubts.
"Today, we were more competitive thanks to a change of set-up and some modifications on the aero side, done more with the aim of getting consistency rather than pure performance," he explained. "Traction and turn-in have improved and now we must look carefully at the start to try and make up a few places then and, on this front, the extra grip from being on the clean side should help.
Alonso agreed that the tight and twisty nature of the Hungaroring made overtaking difficult, so any gains in position would have to come early in the race or not at all.
"It's even more important to try and make up ground immediately, particularly if we want to prevent Vettel from increasing his lead," he said. "The strategy will be very open, the tyres are new for everyone and the high track temperature means we need to think of a strategy that can be modified at any moment.
"The podium is always our target and I feel we can fight for it, even though we know it won't be easy with such strong competition ahead of us," he added.
Alonso's team mate Felipe Massa will line up directly behind him on the grid in seventh place, and the Brazilian was disappointed not to be further up.
"The result does not live up to our expectations," he admitted. "Both myself and Fernando pushed to the maximum without making mistakes, but we were not able to fight for the front positions.
"We are well aware of the fact that Saturday is still our weak point and for that reason, we must stay focused on a race that will not be easy, because the high temperatures will impact on tyre behaviour, on the car and on us drivers.
"Overtaking is almost impossible here, unless the car ahead of you makes a mistake, but I hope I have a good enough race pace to make up some places and bring home the important points that we need," he added.
One piece of good news is that by starting from fifth and seventh, both cars will be on the 'clean' side of the grid on the racing line which might allow them to take advantage of extra grip off at the start compared with those on the other wide.
"Let's hope that starting from the clean side of the track can give us a chance to make up a few places, on a track which is notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities," said the team's head of technical direction Pay Fry. "We can expect a very hot and demanding race. It will not be easy to make up ground and the tyres will be put under a great strain by the track temperature, which is predicted to be over fifty degrees.
"We must be ready to tackle any unforeseen situation," he summed up of the team's overall mindset heading into Sunday's race.