Despite qualifying in seventh place for Sunday's German Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso believes that raceday could be tougher for Ferrari than qualifying suggested.
The Spaniard, having denied that the paddock-wide decision to drop FRIC suspension systems for Hockenheim had made much difference to the set-up of his F14-T, admitted that the use of new supersoft tyres in qualifying may have allowed the Scuderia to punch above its weight. Although team-mate Kimi Raikkonen ended day one of the meeting inside the top three, a problematic morning and scruffy final lap left the Finn out of the pole position shoot-out and Alonso believes that the combination of available rubber and scorching temperatures may have pushed his own position a little higher than expected.
“We have a lot of tyre degradation, especially at the rear, because we spin the tyres with a lack of downforce, and when it is hot, with high track temperatures, this effect is a little bit bigger,” Alonso ruminated, “It is a small thing for the race but, in qualifying, with new tyres, I think we mask these problems with the grip of the tyres. I expect tomorrow to be tougher than the performance we showed today.
“[The removal of FRICS] has done nothing to be honest. I think the performance gap we have to the leaders is the same, we have the same balance issues through the year and nearly identical set-up for this race compared to earlier grands prix, so we came here thinking there were some possibilities for the set-up without the FRICS but ended up with exactly he same car as the last race! I don't think it is affecting things too much and what I hear from other teams is the same thing, with nothing dramatically changing on the car.”
Alonso also denied that Ferrari is at a power deficit to the Renault-powered Red Bull following Total's decision to bring a revised fuel for the world champions, and claimed that the Milton Keynes team could be amongst those Ferrari might expect to battle with on Sunday.
“I think we need to see, as there are always some surprises at the races, some where we expect to be competitive and we are not, and some races where we find ourselves quite competitive,” he noted, “I remember Austria, when we had nothing planned and we were fifth, 18secs behind the Mercedes leaders, so we were very competitive there.
“I think, in front of us, the Williams and Mercedes are too quick for us to fight with them, but Red Bull, Force India and McLaren are beatable. Behind us, there are some threats as I think [Jenson] Button is starting eleventh with a new set of tyres, so he will be very quick in the race looking at [Kevin] Magnussen in qualifying.
“And there is no doubt that [Lewis] Hamilton will quickly arrive at us in the race and will quickly pass us, so it won't be an easy race, but we have to manage in the best way possible.”
Speaking of Hamilton, the Spaniard said that he had no worries about a repeat of the Briton's brake failure, despite using the same Brembo units as his former McLaren colleague.
“We saw the problem with Lewis' disc and I think we run similar material, but we have had zero problems this year and zero problems this weekend, so there is not a concern at the moment,” he claimed, “We are quite happy actually with the brake systems - in the last couple of races they have been one of the strongest points on our car - so everything should be okay.”
Without the chance to fight for the lead of the race, the Spaniard allowed, it could be a change in the conditions that provides Ferrari with its best opportunities.
“Looking at the weather, there is some threat of storms coming in the afternoon, but whether that will that be enough to hit the race and make it a wet race, we will have to see tomorrow,” he concluded, “It could change many things if it happens, so we have to be ready for everything to score points.”