|© AP Images/F1 Pulse
Felipe Massa seems to have found his qualifying form ever since Ferrari announced that it would no longer require his services from next year onwards.
Shortly after the Italian Grand Prix in September, the Maranello-based outfit named its driver line-up for 2014, with Kimi Raikkonen to replace the Brazilian next season.
Including that weekend, Massa has been faster than his teammate in five of the last six qualifying sessions so far with the latest one at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix wherein he qualified in eighth while Alonso failed to make it into the final shootout for the first time this season.
It’s been 28 races since Alonso missed getting into Q3 but the last time he did, he won the race after he clawed through the field to emerge victorious at the European GP at Valencia.
"All weekend we haven't been so quick and in qualifying we were not so fast," Alonso said on Saturday. "Also my laps were not so clean and I lost a couple of tenths. Maybe it is better to start in this position."
In fact, Alonso's qualifying form has been so bad that he has not even made the second row since qualifying third for the Bahrain GP in April. Massa, meanwhile, has made the top three only once, qualifying in second spot for the Malaysian GP a month earlier.
Ferrari struggled on the twisty circuit, just as it did on Friday, with Fernando Alonso down in 11th and Felipe Massa placing 14th in the final practice run.
The design of the 5.5-kilometre Yas Marina track, with its long, sharp turns and hairpin bends, exposes the lack of traction on the Ferraris, an ongoing problem this season and last. Neither Ferrari driver finished higher than eighth over the three practice runs.
"Hopefully there is more in the car. We are in a position that's not normal for us," Alonso said. "We are struggling a little bit more this weekend, but to be fighting for Q3 is not good enough for Ferrari."
With inputs from the AP report by Jerome Pugmire