Nineteen points in the bag for Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the Singapore Grand Prix, thanks to a third place for Fernando Alonso and an eighth for Felipe Massa. It was a very hard race, featuring two Safety Car periods and very taxing climatic conditions. An eighth podium of the season means Fernando keeps the lead in the Drivers’ championship, although his advantage over his closest pursuer has come down to 29 points. The Spaniard started on the Supersofts he had used in qualifying, before stopping twice, both times fitting the Softs. Felipe had to make an unplanned pit stop right on the first lap because of a puncture to the left rear tyre, picked up in the scramble at the start. Once on the Softs, the Brazilian was much quicker and produced a great comeback which brought him up to eighth at the flag. Felipe stays tenth in the Drivers’ table and the Scuderia is still third in the Constructors’.
“It was a very difficult weekend, but the final outcome can be regarded as positive. It’s true that Fernando’s lead over the next man has been reduced, but it’s also true the Spaniard has made up points on three of his four closest rivals. As for the Constructors’, the situation is pretty much the same as before: the leader is a bit further away but second place is a tiny bit nearer. Performance today was definitely better than we had seen in qualifying, also in terms of tyre behaviour. We were rather unlucky: but for the puncture on the opening lap, Felipe would certainly have finished higher up the order and the first Safety Car period definitely wasn’t propitious. There are six Grands Prix to go to the end of the season and clearly, we need to make a step forward in terms of performance, because we cannot rely purely on the misfortune of others. Where we need to improve a lot is on circuits that require maximum aerodynamic downforce. Having said that, we mustn’t over react as it’s better to bring a few updates that work rather than bringing too many. This is the area where we need to improve and it will be one of our priorities in the coming days. The other, which is as always the number one priority, will be reliability: the further on the championship goes, the higher the price you pay for the slightest error.”
“In the end it went well, but we definitely can’t go on like this. It can’t always be the case that my closest rival retires, as has happened in the last two races and we can’t think of carrying on to the end of the season with qualifying sessions like yesterday’s, when our performance was almost a second off the best. On track we manage to make the most of what we have, making few or no mistakes, thanks to great work from the team: for that alone we deserve to be where we are in the classification. Today, we pulled out an advantage over three of our four main competitors, which is positive. Probably this has been the most difficult circuit for us: we will find partially similar characteristics in Korea and Abu Dhabi, but I hope that by the time we get there, we will have found a way of improving the car. The start was definitely not one of my best of the season, but luckily I managed to take back my position from Di Resta immediately. At my first pit stop I immediately ran into traffic, but I had felt the tyres were beginning to degrade too much, so we opted to pit. On the Softs, we were more competitive, but then, after the second stop, the Safety Car came out, which favoured Button and Vettel. Just before the restart, the two leaders nearly collided and I lost a few metres because I was changing settings on the steering wheel. At that point, we didn’t know yet whether we would need to stop again, but when the second neutralisation came and some drivers pitted, then we decided to stay out, even if we weren’t sure if we would suffer with tyre degradation in the final stages, but that wasn’t the case and we made it comfortably to the podium. It was a very tough race physically, definitely the most tiring of the whole season: three hundred odd kilometres in this heat and such high humidity is very stressful.”
“That was a very tough and difficult race. There’s regret for what happened at the first corner, because without the puncture, I could certainly have finished a lot closer to Fernando, which would have been important for both championships. Once I had pitted, there was not much to work out: the aim was to try and make the tyres last as long as possible, while at the same time, going as quickly as possible. Luckily, the two Safety Cars brought the pack together again, but it’s also true that I would never have thought of doing such a long stint as my last one on the Supersofts. The performance of the 2012 today was definitely very different to what we had seen on the two previous days: it seemed like I was driving a different car! Even at the end, I tried to push to make up some places and it was only in the last two laps that I switched to thinking about just bringing the car home, given that the tyres were practically gone. The move on Senna? I think the rules are very clear and one just has to respect them: I was already alongside him and he had to leave me room, but instead he squeezed me into the wall. McLaren and Red Bull are very strong, but I think that today’s result is not so bad for the team: Fernando has managed to bring home a good points haul. Of course we must improve our performance, especially in qualifying.”
“Looking at our performance overall, we cannot be happy with it compared to that of our main competitors, because there is no point denying we were expecting better. Having said that, we saw that, even in difficult conditions, we managed to get the most out of our package, doing the best possible job on track – both Fernando and Felipe did very well – and in the garage and the pit wall. Race performance was better than what we had seen yesterday and we must calmly analyse all the data to understand how we can bring the sort of performance we see in the race into play in qualifying too. As far as the strategy is concerned, I think we made the right choices. At the second stop, we could not have gone longer with Fernando, because tyre degradation was getting too high. Unfortunately, the Spaniard came out behind a group of slower cars, but there was nothing else we could have done. The first Safety Car period was helpful for those who had yet to stop at that point, but at the same time, it also gave Fernando the possibility of running to the finish without stopping again, which was definitely positive. As for Felipe, bad luck immediately affected his race, but then he did a really good job of remedying the situation, proving to be very quick on the Soft as well as the Supersoft. I have to say his final stint was particularly good: 26 laps on the Option, with overtaking moves and a very aggressive drive was a very nice surprise. We need to study carefully the way this weekend went to understand how to improve our performance level for the coming races. We don’t have the quickest car, especially on this type of circuit and it’s down to us to try and give our drivers what they need to fight our strongest opponents on level terms.”