Qualifying ‘no surprise’ for tyre-troubled Scuderia
5 October 2013
Fernando Alonso will line up on the inside of row three for Sunday's Korean Grand Prix, admitting that he had expected no more from qualifying in Yeongam.
The Spaniard, who knows that he needs to finish ahead of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in each of the remaining six races if he is to have a chance of overturning the current 60-point gap between them at the top of the championship, repeated well-worn comments about Ferrari's lack of qualifying pace, but insisted that he remained cautiously optimistic of better performance in the race.
“I am not surprised at the outcome of this qualifying session because, in terms of pure
performance, Saturday is always difficult for us and will continue to be so until the end of the season,” Alonso confirmed, “Usually, on Sunday, things go better and our aim is always to get to the podium, as has happened in recent races.
“However, this weekend seems harder than usual, because while, up until now, we have always had a good race pace, both yesterday and today we suffered on the long runs and that means we must absolutely improve for tomorrow.”
The Spaniard's mood could be improved by the anticipated passage of a typhoon, which still threatens to bring wind and rain to the vicinity of the circuit.
“We have a few problems with the tyres which we are unable to manage as well as the others - there's a lot of graining and, if you push very hard in the first sector, you almost risk being unable to finish the lap,” he revealed, “We will have to find the right compromise to get them to survive the number of laps proposed by our engineers, because the ideal strategy is still a two-stop.
“Given how we look in the dry, however, the rain could mix things up and, in fact, we have nothing to lose. Even if there will be little time to adapt to it, we must be ready for this eventuality”.
While Alonso slipped from fourth to fifth to sixth in the respective stages of qualifying, team-mate Felipe Massa moved in the opposite direction, but insisted that he still wasn't satisfied with his performance.
“I can't be happy with the result of qualifying, as I expected to be closer to our rivals than in Singapore,” the Brazilian lamented, “But that wasn't the case because, here too, both Red Bull and Mercedes had a much faster pace and we didn't manage to get everything out of our car.”
Like Alonso, Massa is also harbouring concerns about his tyres ahead of the race.
“The degradation on the supersofts on our car is rather high, while other cars are suffering less, and, based on how the first stint goes, we will decide if we should switch to the mediums, which at the moment seems like the best choice,” he explained, “Apart from Red Bull, Mercedes and one Lotus ahead of us, we will have
to be very careful about other cars that are also very close [behind]. It will be important to get a very good start, trying to push to the maximum to bring home a reasonable points haul. It would definitely require a lot of luck to make it to the podium….”
Technical chief Pat Fry confirmed that Saturday's result reflected 'more or less what we had expected' from qualifying.
“We can't claim to be happy about being unable to fight for the front rows, but we are aware of what our potential is,” he pointed out, “We tried to extract the maximum from the package we have available, and, in the first sector, we have always
been competitive. But, from halfway through the second [sector] to the end of the third, we have suffered, especially on the supersoft. It wasn't easy finding the right balance which would allow us to push to the maximum without accentuating the tyre wear, which is inevitable when you don't have a high level of aerodynamic
“For tomorrow, we will have to try and manage the tyre degradation as well as possible over a long distance, especially in the first stint.”