Italian Grand Prix Qualifying – Ferrari
Italian GP – No magic wand
Monza, 10 September – When attending the FIA press conference on Friday at the circuit, Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was asked what he would change at Ferrari if he had a magic wand. Being a person who always has his feet on the ground, the Ferrari man explained that if a magic wand was available, there were more important things to do with it in this world than change a Formula 1 team.
However, magic wands do not exist and this afternoon’s qualifying session was a true reflection of life in the real world, with the grid order giving an accurate picture of the current situation down pit lane. Indeed, Fernando Alonso realised this, pointing out that fourth place has been his most common grid position this year. It’s not a bad result and certainly good enough to aspire to a podium finish in tomorrow’s Italian Grand Prix. In the other 150º Italia, Felipe Massa will have a perfect view of his team-mate’s rear wing, as he set the sixth fastest time for a place on the outside of Row 3. On a track that was not expected to play to the Red Bull’s strengths, championship leader Sebastian Vettel still managed to put almost half a second between his pole time and that of second placed Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren. Fernando has the McLaren of Jenson Button on the inside of him on Row 2, while Felipe is alongside fifth placed Mark Webber in the second Red Bull.
The team has worked incredibly hard all weekend, not just to improve the car through the three practice sessions and into qualifying to deliver this very respectable result, but also on so many other fronts, when every aspect of the team’s work comes under scrutiny at its home race and drivers and engineers are called upon to fulfil promotional and media requests as well as concentrating on work in the garage. Showing his support today in what is always a “pressure cooker” environment at Monza was Luca di Montezemolo. It has become something of a tradition over the years that the Ferrari President always arrives on Saturday, in time to boost morale and follow the session from the pit wall. He can be satisfied with a job well done, at least in part, given that tomorrow is when the points and podiums are up for grabs. Tomorrow’s race is very difficult to predict, as indeed has been every race this year thanks to the new rules and new tyre supplier. The Italian GP is the shortest on the calendar time wise: last year, Fernando Alonso took just over one hour and sixteen minutes to be first past the chequered flag, so choosing the best moment to pit for new tyres will be one of the keys to the race. For Fernando or Felipe to actually win the Prancing Horse’s home race will be extremely difficult, but the ability of the 150º Italia to look after its tyres might be a big plus over 53 laps, especially if it’s another hot day tomorrow.