Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying – Ferrari

Canadian GP – Another step forward

Montreal, 11 June – Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro recorded its best qualifying performance of the year with Fernando Alonso second and Felipe Massa third, behind pole man Sebastian Vettel. It was a very evenly matched session, with the two Ferrari men always frontrunners – Alonso was first in Q1 and Massa the same in Q2 – never before as close to the Red Bull as today. Rain could be a factor in tomorrow’s race, which is yet another unknown in a situation that is already difficult to read.

Canadian GP – Fernando and Felipe a whisker off pole. Montreal delivers best qualifying of the year

This was the best qualifying of the season so far for Scuderia Ferrari, which means Fernando Alonso will start the Canadian Grand Prix from the front row with Felipe Massa in third place. So far, the two 150º Italias have been in the top four in every session of this Canadian weekend and the aim is to continue in that vein tomorrow.

Stefano Domenicali: “For the first time this year we managed to fight for the very top places on the grid, right down to the final second and, for once, the gap to pole position is reasonable. It’s our best qualifying of the season and it’s great to have both cars on the front two rows, one of them with a clear view of the track ahead: this result is encouraging, because it means that our efforts are taking us in the right direction. Definitely, at the moment, our car is better suited to the characteristics of the “Gilles Villeneuve” circuit than it is to the one at Montmelò, but it’s no coincidence that we have been competitive right from the start of the weekend. Now however, we must concentrate on preparing for a race that looks like being very unpredictable. Historically, Canada produces an action packed Grand Prix, with the Safety Car usually required on track and lots of overtaking opportunities: if you add to this scenario the unknown factor concerning the weather, then it’s clear why tomorrow’s 70 laps will seem very, very long for everyone.”

Fernando Alonso: “It’s been a long time – since Singapore 2010 in fact – that I was last on the front row and I am pleased that Felipe is also right up close to me on the starting grid. It means the whole team has worked well, at the track and back home on trying to improve our car performance. It was important to show we can be competitive and we managed it. In Q3, we had some doubts about strategy – whether it would be better to do just a single lap at the start and then three or split the runs equally – but it’s hard to say which would really have been the best choice. Clearly, on a track like this, where aerodynamic downforce is not as important as elsewhere, our deficiencies are a bit masked but it’s equally true that the updates we brought here worked as we had expected and that’s important for the rest of the championship, because we want to be fighting for the top places. It could rain tomorrow, which would make the race even more chaotic than usual: we must be ready to make the most of any opportunity. We will try to put the Red Bulls under pressure, right from the start, but we know McLaren will also be very strong, especially as their rear wing is possibly better adapted to the conditions in the case of a wet track.”

Felipe Massa: “It’s been a great weekend so far: we have always been competitive and finally we will be able to start from a good grid position. Tomorrow, the weather could be different and therefore we must be ready to tackle any eventuality. I have been happy with the way the car is handling right from yesterday and I am very confident for the race. The team is working well and we really hope we can put an end to this run of negative results. The fact the gap to the Red Bull is smaller here is encouraging, also for the future. We know that at this track, the race is very difficult, but also, from what we have seen so far, our car is more competitive in the race than in qualifying. I expect McLaren will be very strong tomorrow as will be the Red Bulls obviously. A podium would be a great result, fighting for the win would be even better. What will happen if it rains? That’s a good question, because this year we have never had a real opportunity to run in the wet. On top of that, at this track, the slightest slip up carries a very high price, therefore it’s important to be very careful.”

Pat Fry: “We are pleased with this result, the best since the championship began. The credit for that goes to everyone: the drivers who did not make any driving errors on an unforgiving track, the team that prepared the cars with great care and everyone at Maranello who worked with alacrity to make up the performance gap that separates us from the best. However, we have yet to bring home any points from this Grand Prix, so we must stay completely focussed on preparations for tomorrow’s race, which will be long and unpredictable. The rain could play a part and we will have to be ready to react in the right way to any eventuality. On behalf of the whole team, my thoughts go out to Marco Oliva, one of our mechanics who was injured during a pit stop today: these things can happen in our sport and we hope Marco gets better very soon.”

Qualifying session
Q1 FA 1st 1.13.822 7 FM 3rd 1.14.026 7
Q2 FM 1st 1.13.431 5 FA 4th 1.13.672 4
Q3 FA 2nd 1.13.199 8 FM 3rd 1.13.217 8

Weather: air 21/22 °C, track 25 °C; overcast. Chassis: Alonso 290, Massa 289

Canadian GP – Optimism and uncertainty

Montreal, 11 June – After Friday’s free practice, Fernando Alonso stated that not much significance could be attached to the fact that the two 150º Italias were running competitively, given the uncertainties related to the free sessions. However, on this occasion, it turns out that some confidence was justified as Fernando will enjoy seeing all the way down the pit straight when he sits on the grid tomorrow. Okay, so out of the corner of one eye he will no doubt notice the blue colour scheme of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull, the German on pole for the sixth time this year, but it’s a Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro front row start nevertheless at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit. One place behind the Spaniard is team-mate Felipe Massa, third fastest at the end of Q3, having been quickest in Q2, while Fernando took the top slot in Q1.

Optimism for the outcome of tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix, the seventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship, is therefore perfectly acceptable. However, good grid positions are only the first step on a very long road, a road that last for 70 laps on a track that is notorious for trapping the unwary driver. This means that, along with the Formula 1 cars, the sports car that serves as the Safety Car often spends a lot of time on track. The weather has been a popular topic all weekend, with heavy storms hitting the city of Montreal earlier in the week, with more rain possibly expected on race day. If the rain does come tomorrow at some point after one o’clock when the race begins, it will be interesting to see what set-up strategies the various teams have adopted: changes to the cars between qualifying and the race are limited to safety related elements only, therefore the bets on the possibility of rain were already placed before the cars tackled qualifying.

While the Ferrari duo have to deal with the track and the elements, it’s the opponents who present the biggest challenge and behind the top three qualifiers, Mark Webber is fourth in the other Red Bull alongside Felipe. Lewis Hamilton is on the inside of row 3 in fifth place for McLaren, with the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg alongside him. As ever, the start will be important, but overtaking was already a common occurrence here in past years, before the arrival of KERS and DRS, so tomorrow’s race should provide plenty of passing opportunities, especially with the double DRS zone, although effectively it is one long zone from the exit of the final hairpin extending to the pit straight. As ever this season, tyres can be expected to play an important role and even though teams now have experience of running Pirellis at six Grands Prix, the data base is still in its infancy. However, it is clear that degradation is not as significant as had been predicted and of course all of that becomes irrelevant if it rains.