Ferrari satisfied with race pace in Korea
16 October 2011
Ferrari's two drivers started on the third row of the Korean Grand Prix grid, and they came home in fifth and sixth place as well - albeit with Fernando Alonso having got the better of team mate Felipa Massa during the race. In the circumstances, it was all they could have hoped for.
"Logic dictates our result in this race: we have the third best car in terms of its potential and we finished the race in fifth and sixth places," conceded team principal Stefano Domenicali.
Domenicali and his drivers all stressed that the race pace of the car was very good, and that it was the relative lack of pace in qualifying that was holding them back.
"As usual this year, Red Bull and McLaren are clearly stronger in qualifying, but then on Sunday we are all much closer," pointed out Alonso. "We must try and improve our Saturday performance."
Domenicali agreed with that: "Our race pace is definitely better than our outright performance in qualifying and that means we end up almost always fighting for a place on the podium, but if one does not start from the two front rows it becomes difficult to target the top places."
Alonso struggled with understeer on the supersoft tyres early in the race, not helped by the lack of aerodynamic downforce resulting from being stuck in traffic. "When we switched to the softs, the situation improved significantly and, with a clear track, I was able to push as hard as I could, but by then it was difficult to reach the small group that was fighting for the podium."
Alonso put in some dazzling laps during this stage of the race and closed right up on the back of Jenson Button in fourth place, but that was all that the car had in it - he could push it no further in the few laps remaining. "Hence what I said on the radio: having given my all for twenty laps, but there was no way I could do more with just two laps to go," he explained.
For his part, Felipe Massa also found the early supersofts a handful and was much happier when he switched to the prime tyres. He explained that his race had been dictated by pit lane necessities.
"At the first pit stop, I rejoined the track behind Rosberg and Button. This was mainly because the team had to keep me on my spot because Michael was coming and also because the other two had pitted before me," he said. "After the second stop, I found myself behind a Toro Rosso and a Force India who were fighting amongst themselves and I lost valuable time which allowed Fernando to get ahead of me."
"Everyone was trying to run the tyres right to the limit in the first stint to avoid ending up behind slower cars," added Pat Fry, head of race track engineering. "If we had brought our drivers in one lap early, maybe it would have been a different scenario, instead of finding ourselves behind Rosberg in the Mercedes, which is always one of the hardest cars to pass. On top of that, traffic in the pit lane itself cost Felipe two very important seconds.
"In the second stint, Fernando was very quick and so we left him out on track for a few laps longer, which meant he got ahead of Felipe. With a clear track ahead of him, the Spaniard showed what the car could do, but by then it was pretty much too late to attack the cars ahead."
Now the team heads off to the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in two weeks time, a prospect that Felipe Massa found particularly exciting.
"I don't know the country and I am very curious to see what it's like," he said. "I think it has a lot in common with Brazil, given that both are going through a period of strong growth."