British Grand Prix Qualifying – Ferrari

British GP – Stopwatch shows signs of progress
Silverstone, 9 July – It has been another cold day at Silverstone, but at least the rain stayed away long enough for drivers to finally tackle the 5.891 kilometre track on slick tyres, during this morning’s final hour of free practice. However, in the afternoon, a very short shower towards the end of the first part of qualifying was then followed by heavier rain right at the end of Q3. By this time Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa had already done enough to ensure that the second row of the grid was all-red, as the Spaniard took his 150º Italia to third place and his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Massa was fourth.

As Fernando himself pointed out, it was not his best result of the year, as he was on the front row in second place in Canada. However, the gap to the pole position lap time is smaller than at any time this season and that is the most encouraging sign that months of hard work is finally paying off. The fast flowing nature of this circuit, built on a former airfield is not meant to suit the Prancing Horse, but clearly the updates introduced this weekend, on top of other steps seen in recent weeks have made a difference. For example, both the Spaniard and his Brazilian team-mate were delighted to find that, for the first time this season they had managed to get the Hard compound Pirelli tyres work to their liking.

However, the Red Bulls still have the edge as proved by the fact they are both on the front row, even if for the first time in three years at this Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel is not on pole. The reigning world champion had to make do with second place, behind team-mate Mark Webber. The British crowd have to look to row 3 to find their first British driver – in fact there are two of them there, as Jenson Button is fifth quickest for McLaren, while Paul di Resta recorded his best ever F1 qualifying performance to record the sixth best time for Force India.

Tomorrow’s race is a step into the unknown for a variety of reasons: to start with, teams have little dry weather data on which to base their tyre strategies, secondly although the forecast is for dry weather, it is likely to be what the English like to call “unsettled” and thirdly, there are new rules regarding the use of exhaust gases to create downforce that have not yet been used in a race. These unknowns aside, Fernando and Felipe are definitely well placed to make the most of any opportunity or the slightest slip up from the championship leaders, so it should be a fascinating 52 laps to bring the first half of this thrilling 2011 season to a close.

British GP – Closer than ever to pole position Two Ferraris on the second row at Silverstone
Santander British Grand Prix sees two 150º Italia cars on the second row of the grid, with Fernando Alonso third and Felipe Massa fourth. The following explains the Pirelli tyre useage during the session: one set of Primes each in Q1; Alonso Intermediate and Soft in Q2, Massa just Soft; two sets of Soft each in Q3, with both men aborting their second run as the rain intensified.

Stefano Domenicali: “An encouraging qualifying, especially in terms of our performance. Coming this close to pole position at a track which, on paper, looks like a tough one for us, is a positive step and a good basis from which to start our work for the future, both in the short and long term. I say this because we have worked so hard these past months to make up a very big gap and, step by step, we are getting there. We have to continue in this manner, if possible doing even more. As for this weekend, which is such an important one for us, as it marks the sixtieth anniversary of Scuderia Ferrari’s first Formula 1 win, we must try our best to have a good race. We start from good positions and from the little we have been able to tell over these past two days, the updates we have brought here are working well. Usually, our race pace is better than in qualifying, so let’s hope that is also the case tomorrow… Finally, I wish to congratulate Jules for his GP2 win this afternoon, at the end of a race which he drove with brio.”

Fernando Alonso: “I think that was the best qualifying of the year in performance terms. It’s true that the actual result was better in Canada – second – but I was further off pole position than I am today. Furthermore, we are at a circuit that definitely does not suit the characteristics of our car and to be just over a tenth off first is a great sign. The new parts we introduced here worked well and I think that tomorrow, we can put those who start in front of us under a bit of pressure. The team has done so much work and this step forward is down to them. We have also made progress in the way we manage the tyres: from what we could see in the few dry laps we did today, we can even make the Hard tyre work, while back in Barcelona they lost us a lap in less than half a race distance. Tyre performance will be very important tomorrow, whether as forecast it’s dry, or wet, which can always ambush you here. We will have to be ready for any eventuality: it will be important to get a good start, which constitutes the only really new element at this track compared to the past. Am I hoping for rain? No, especially for the fans who have already got wet for the past two days. Let’s hope we can put on a great show for this very large crowd.”

Felipe Massa: “I’d say this was a good qualifying for us: to be third and fourth on the grid is a nice result, especially when compared to some Saturdays earlier in the season. In Q3, at first I did not get a good lap, making a few mistakes: I thought I could make up for it on my second run, but the rain arrived and it was no longer possible. Fourth place is therefore positive, especially as I was able to keep both McLarens behind me. From what we can see, the car seems competitive. Sure, we don’t have much to go on, especially on full tanks and in terms of how the tyres will perform on a long run. It will be a bit like racing in the dark with so many things only coming to light during the race. How much was our performance affected by the new rules concerning the use of exhaust gases? All the cars, ours included, have lost aerodynamic downforce to some extent, some more than others, but I would say that the progress we have made compared to the others owes more to the updates we have introduced. How else can one explain the fact that, for the first time this year, we have also managed to get the Hard tyres to work in a correct fashion.”

Pat Fry: “A good qualifying, during which we were fighting for the top places right to the end. All three sessions were very intense because we had to contend with the continuously changing weather. We tried to stay calm, even if we were all a bit concerned when we saw Fernando going off onto the grass: there might have been some damage done to the car and, with rain on its way, the situation would have been even more complicated. Luckily, everything turned out alright. Both drivers did a good job, trying to get the most out of the package at their disposal. We have so many new parts here, but yesterday there was no way we could evaluate them fully, because of the rain. However, given that there were no particularly negative conclusions, we decided to run all of them and, looking at this afternoon’s performance, you could see the results. On a track where aerodynamic efficiency is the key element, we have got both cars onto the second row, with a smaller gap to pole than last year. This confirms that our development work on the 150º Italia is moving in the right direction, but we are well aware it is still not enough to be where we want to be. Tomorrow, we should have a dry race: we will be trying our very best to give all our fans something to cheer about.”

Qualifying session

Q1 FM 3rd 1.32.760 8 FA 5th 1.32.986 8
Q2 FM 1st 1.31.640 3 FA 3rd 1.31.727 7
Q3 FA 3rd 1.30.516 5 FM 4th 1.31.124 5

Weather: air 16 °C, track 16/17 °C; changeable conditions, rain at times. Chassis: Alonso 290, Massa 289
British GP – Alonso third and Massa fourth in Silverstone qualifying
Silverstone, 9 July – At the end of the three sessions of qualifying to decide the grid for the British Grand Prix, Mark Webber took pole position for Red Bull in a time of 1.30.399 ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel (1.30.431.) The second row of the grid is an all Ferrari affair, with Fernando Alonso in third in 1.30.516 and Felipe Massa fourth in the other 150º Italia with a time of 1.31.124.

British GP – Dry running for final practice
Silverstone, 9 July – Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull was quickest in the final free practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, with a lap of 1.31.401. The 150º Italia cars of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were second and fourth in times of 1.31.464 and 1.32.169 respectively. Splitting the two Ferrari in third spot was the other Red Bull of Mark Webber (1.31.829.) Work centred on qualifying, trying the new components on both cars in the dry for the first time, as well as doing a comparison between the Hard and Soft compound tyres. Qualifying gets underway at 13h00 to decide the grid for tomorrow’s ninth round of the Formula 1 World Championship.