A competitive Ferrari fought all the way to the end for the front rows during qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix. At the end of the three very closely contested sessions, Fernando Alonso set the fourth fastest time and, on the grid, will find himself directly in front of his teammate, Felipe Massa, who set the sixth fastest time in Q3. In the first part, Alonso used two sets of tyres, the first a soft, the second a supersoft, while Massa used just a single set of the prime. On the first run in Q2, Alonso used the same set of options he had just used before, while Massa took his first set of new supersofts. After running on a second set of options for the final run in Q2, both Ferrari men ran an identical tyre programme in Q3: a first run on the tyres used just before and the second on the third set of new options.
“I’d say we’ve made a step forward compared to Japan, just a week ago, both in terms of grid position and also the gap to the front. You can see that our car is better suited to this track, given that it is basically the same one we raced in Japan. We must improve it and I expect to see some updates coming, right from the next race in India. It’s no surprise to see the two Red Bulls on the front row: indeed it’s not by chance they were fastest in Q1 and Q2 also. My second run in Q1? I was being very careful not to wear out the tyres too much because I knew I’d be using them later in Q2. I think tomorrow we can have a good race: maybe I might lose a few places immediately after the start, as I’m on the dirty side of the track, but we have shown we have a good pace over a long run and so we should be able to stay with the lead group. Our aim tomorrow? It’s very simple: to finish ahead of (Sebastian) Vettel. From now on, how many points one has overall will not count for much, it will be scoring one more than my closest rival that matters. It could happen that I lose the lead in the championship and maybe arrive at the last race 24 points down, but what matters is to be first in the classification at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix. What edge does the Red Bull have? A quicker car, but we have the better team.”
“It was a reasonably good qualifying, even if it was not perfect. I made a few small mistakes that maybe cost me one or two places, but all in all, sixth place is definitely not a disaster. The most important thing today is that we made the cut through from Q2: it means that, from this point of view, we have made a significant step forward. Over a long run, we have seen in the past that we are more competitive than on a single flying lap and we hope that history will repeat itself tomorrow, so that we can fight with those who start ahead of us. In qualifying there are at least two cars quicker than us, but then in the race the situation is different. We have to come up with a good strategy, trying to get the best out of the tyres that don’t appear to wear out much here. The first corner is very tight here and we hope we can get a normal start. (Romain) Grosjean starting near me? I think he understands how he must behave so I’m not particularly concerned.”
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal
“We have proved we can fight for the very front rows, which is a positive sign, especially if we look at the gaps to pole position. Compared to the two previous races, the distance is reduced, but clearly, our aim is to give our drivers the best car. It was a very intense hour of qualifying, not easy to manage, because the relative performance of the teams was very close. A car on the second row and the other on the third is a good outcome and puts us in a position to be in the running in tomorrow afternoon’s race. Usually, we have seen that the F2012 is more competitive on Sunday than on Saturday: let’s hope that’s the case this time too! We will have to do everything to perfection: strategy, the work in the garage and reliability. Then, at the end of tomorrow afternoon, we can see where we stand.”
Pat Fry, Technical Director
“We were competitive throughout qualifying, but maybe we did not extract the full 100 percent of our potential. Clearly, when you get to Q3 with just one set of new options, you have to pay the price, which even if it’s a small one, can have a big effect, especially when the grid is so tight. With hindsight, it seems easy to say that we should have done this or that differently, but when you need to make decisions in a matter of seconds, you need to consider all eventualities, because the risk of making mistakes by jumping to conclusions is always lying in wait. Having said that, we have seen that on this track, the F2012 has turned out to be more competitive than it was in qualifying at Suzuka: it means that, given we did not introduce any major technical changes, we have been able to put together a good car for our drivers. Tomorrow, we should see a very interesting race, in which tyre behaviour will play an important role. From what we saw yesterday, our race pace seems reasonably good, but we will have to wait and see what it’s like tomorrow. As usual, reliability will be the number one priority.”