Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

Canadian GP – Best qualifying of the season
Montreal, 9 June – The final part of qualifying which just ended at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit saw pole go to Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull with a time of 1.13.784. Alongside him for the start of the Canadian Grand Prix will be Lewis Hamilton (1.14.087) in the McLaren. Third was Fernando Alonso, who took his Ferrari round in 1.14.151, while team-mate Felipe Massa will start sixth on the grid with a time of 1.14.465.

Canadian GP – Another step forward Montreal brings best qualifying of 2012
Best Saturday of the year for Scuderia Ferrari, with one driver on the second row and the other on the third after qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso was third fastest in Q3, with Felipe Massa securing sixth place. The Pirelli tyre useage for the two Maranello drivers was almost identical: Soft in Q1, Soft and Supersoft in Q2 and two sets of Supersoft in Q3.

Stefano Domenicali: “We can be pleased with this qualifying session, the best out of the seven so far this season, with both our drivers in the top three rows on the grid. We are back to being in the hunt for pole and that is the most important fact. It means that all our efforts to improve the performance of the car are bearing fruit. All the more encouraging when one considers that this track actually highlights the very qualities that to date had been our weakest points, in other words traction and top speed. We have made a step forward, but it’s still not enough to be where we want. Now we will concentrate on what looks like being a very unpredictable race. This year, we have already seen that Sunday always throws up some surprises and I don’t think tomorrow will be an exception. We must try and continue to work with the same determination and the same organisation that, especially with Fernando, has allowed us to get the very most out of our potential in the very early part of the season.”

Fernando Alonso: “I am happy with the way things have gone so far this weekend, especially because the car has proved to be competitive, even on a track which certainly does not suit its characteristics. That is mainly down to the updates we have brought here, which have worked as we expected, which makes me confident for the rest of the season too. I well remember where we were in Australia and if today we are in the fight for pole, it signifies that we have done a good job over the past few months, especially as the others have not exactly been twiddling their thumbs. I am also pleased for Felipe, who is confirming the progress we already saw in recent races: at the start of the championship he was definitely unlucky, but we have always stayed united and now the results are coming, as indeed they should for a driver of his talent. Having said all that, we must not forget that today there are two drivers who were quicker than us, therefore there is still some ground to make up in performance terms, although finally we seem to be able to fight on level terms with the best. It was a rather stressful qualifying because here the times are always very close and it only takes a few tenths of a difference to be in front or down the back. Third on the starting grid is a good position from which to attack in the race, especially as pole is not so important here as elsewhere. Tyre degradation will be one of the key factors on Sunday, given the temperatures will be very different to what we saw yesterday afternoon. Races here are always unpredictable, but for sure it would be very nice to give all the Canadian Ferrari fans a nice result in the thirtieth anniversary year of the death of Gilles Villeneuve. Italy-Spain in the European football? We haven’t spoken about it yet with the team but, if we win, then maybe I might find there are not too many people on hand to change my tyres at the pit stop….! :-)”

Felipe Massa: “I am pleased with the progress made this weekend: starting from sixth is a positive result. However, I can’t be happy with my last lap in Q3: in the second sector, I lost the rear end and that cost me a few tenths and that quite probably meant a few places on the grid. I’m very disappointed because I had the potential to do better than this sixth place. All things considered, I remain confident, because the whole team is moving forward which is very important for the rest of the season. Tomorrow, we will have to pay great attention when it comes to defining our strategy. I think the choice is restricted to just a one or a two stop, but a lot depends on tyre behaviour. We hope to make up some places and bring home a good result. On my helmet I have the name Gilles Villeneuve as a tribute to the memory of a driver who was part of Ferrari history: I am very proud of being able to pay homage to him in the year that marks the thirtieth anniversary of his death. Even if I was only just born when the accident happened, I have always been a big fan of his.”

Pat Fry: “It’s a good result for the team, on a track that, on paper, did not look like suiting the characteristics of our car. All the same, we proved to be competitive, even if it’s what happens tomorrow in the race that counts. We are working very hard on developing the F2012 and we can now see tangible signs of progress. That is down to all our people, from those in the wind tunnel to those who manufacture the parts to ever tighter deadlines, without forgetting all the other departments and I wish to thank them all for their efforts. We must continue down this route, because while we have managed to close a good part of the gap which separates us from the best, it’s also true that we’re not yet on top. We have various updates here and the majority of them have lived up to our expectations and this too is a positive sign. Tomorrow’s race will be very unpredictable, as indeed has been the case so far in this championship. In Montreal, the Safety Car usually plays its part and we must be ready to tackle every eventuality. There is the unknown factor relating to tyres: today we have seen how the situation changes depending on the temperature, which was decidedly higher than yesterday. It will have a major influence on strategy also because, unlike Monaco, you certainly can’t expect to keep faster cars behind you in the closing stages of the race.”

Qualifying session

Q1 ALO 5th 1.14.916 8 MAS 15th 1.15.194 8
Q2 ALO 2nd 1.14.314 8 MAS 9th 1.14.641 10
Q3 ALO 3rd 1.14.151 7 MAS 6th 1.14.465 6

Weather:
air 22/21 °C, track 26/24 °C; clear skies.
Chassis:
Alonso 295, Massa 294

Canadian GP – Best grid of the year for Scuderia Ferrari
Montreal, 9 June – After qualifying fifth and seventh two weeks ago in Monaco, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa secured the third and sixth grid places respectively in this afternoon’s qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix. Putting aside, the Spaniard’s front row start from second place in his home race in Barcelona, this is Scuderia Ferrari’s best overall qualifying performance of the season. It therefore confirms that the F2012 is making progress and also reaffirms the signs of Felipe’s return to form, first seen at the Principality street race. In twenty four hours time, we will discover if all the hard work that has gone into this weekend will translate into an excellent result in the Canadian Grand Prix.

The final part of qualifying, the top ten shoot-out was a thrilling spectacle for the ever enthusiastic Montreal crowd, with the top eight drivers on the grid all lapping within the same second. From a few races ago, when just getting through to Q3 was a tough call for the Scuderia Ferrari duo, occasionally involving sacrificing new race tyres to ensure they had at least a reasonable grid position, we now saw Fernando a genuine contender for pole and Felipe annoyed with himself for losing some tenths, when the back end of his car stepped out of line and being disappointed with sixth on the grid. While the long straights, combined with DRS and KERS makes overtaking a common occurrence here, starting from the front few rows is still a big plus at a track that often sees a few unforeseen incidents in the opening laps, usually in the mid-field and usually requiring an appearance from the Safety Car.

The two drivers who will have a better view than Fernando of the run down to the first corner are Sebastian Vettel who took pole position for Red Bull Racing and Lewis Hamilton who was second fastest in the McLaren. Fernando shares Row 2 with Monaco winner Mark Webber in the Red Bull, while Felipe finds himself outside Nico Rosberg’s fifth placed Mercedes.

Warm and sunny conditions are expected again tomorrow for the 70 lap race around the Gilles Villeneuve circuit and, as usual, strategy based on tyre behaviour holds the key. Already in Monaco, it was clear that the Soft and Supersoft tyre suffered less degradation than expected. It’s been a similar story here with the same Pirelli compounds available, which is why the first part of today’s qualifying was somewhat chaotic with 24 drivers all being able to do several laps per run before the tyres went off, making for a crowded track.