Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

British GP – Alonso on pole
Silverstone, July 7 – The bad weather returned for qualifying for the British Grand Prix, which takes place tomorrow at Silverstone. The rain got heavier throughout the first two sessions, with everyone running intermediate tyres and then extremes, before Q2 was red flagged when the conditions became too bad to continue. With just over 6 minutes remaining, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were fifteenth and sixteenth respectively. After a 90 minute break the weather showed signs of improving and the race director restarted the session. The two Ferrari men were straight back out on track, making it to Q3 with two good laps on Extremes, in almost nil visibility. At the end of the session another magic performance from Fernando Alonso saw the Spaniard quickest in 1.51.746, thus putting the Ferrari on pole. Felipe Massa also did very well, who was in the hunt for the front rows eventually finishing fifth in 1.53.065. Mark Webber, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel filled the three spaces between the two F2012s.

British GP – First pole of 2012 at Silverstone
First pole of the season for Scuderia Ferrari, courtesy of Fernando Alonso, at the end of an extremely long qualifying session. Rain was the main factor today, causing an interruption of over an hour, when there was just over six minutes left to the end of Q2. A positive day for the Scuderia was completed by a fifth place for Felipe Massa, the Brazilian’s best performance of the season. This is pole number 206 for Ferrari, the fifteenth at this Grand Prix and it ends a drought that goes all the way back to Singapore 2010. For Fernando, it was his twenty first number one slot in qualifying, the third at the wheel of a Maranello built car.

Stefano Domenicali: “The points are only given out on Sunday and we always keep that in mind…Obviously, we are happy today because it’s been a long time, too long, that we have not had one of our drivers on pole position, but we must not get carried away now, quite the contrary. We must concentrate even more on our work because, once again, this afternoon, we saw how things can change literally from one minute to the next. Fernando was extraordinary and Felipe also did a great job: it’s our best qualifying of the year and we must try and make the most of it in tomorrow’s race. The weather forecast is rather uncertain, so we will have to be on high alert, ready to react to the slightest change. So many times this year, we have seen that grid positions have not proved decisive when it comes to the final result: let’s hope that, tomorrow at least, it will play an important role.”

Fernando Alonso: “First of all I want to dedicate this pole to Maria de Villota, who is going through a particularly difficult time. We are all feeling sad these days and our thoughts are with her and her family. Pole was a surprise, because in conditions like these, you never know what can happen. This morning, in the dry, the car was very good, but in the wet it could all be different, even if the F2012 has shown that’s it’s not bad in the rain, if one thinks of Malaysia and the Mugello test. This afternoon, one had to be in the right place at the right time on the right tyres and, to succeed in that, you also needed a bit of luck. For once it came our way, as with the spin at the start of Q2 and when I managed to get through into Q3 by a hair’s breadth after the interruption: in the end, I had a car ahead of me and the visibility was really poor and then there were yellow flags at the last corner, but in the end I managed to get through to the next stage. Today’s pole is important, even if we know it came to us in unusual conditions. We still need to get one in the dry to be able to say we have closed the gap to the best. I’m hoping for a boring race tomorrow, given that for once I’m starting in front of everyone.”

Felipe Massa: “It’s a nice result for the team, mainly because, when the red flag came out, both myself and Fernando were out of Q3. We did a good job at the restart in the last few laps of Q2 and then, in Q3 we were always in the fight for pole position, but I was losing time right at the very last corner, as I was locking the rear wheels. All the same, I am pleased with fifth place. I think I will be competitive tomorrow, especially as the car is going well on this type of track. From Canada onwards, the F2012 has improved a lot and the results are clear to see. I think that the stoppage in Q2 was the right decision, even if it could have maybe come a bit sooner: it was incredible how much aquaplaning there was on the main straight at that time. Then Race Control did a great job in making sure the track was in a practicable condition, which meant the spectators were able to see a spectacle that must have lived up to their enthusiasm. For we drivers, the break was boring, but for everyone in the grandstands, it was even worse, given how hard the rain was falling!”

Pat Fry: “It was a long and tense session. The final outcome is really great because we have not been on pole for a long time, but there was a long period, after the red flag, during which we feared the worse. It goes to show how, especially in such an evenly matched season as this one, in Formula 1 things can change very quickly. Both our drivers did a great job in very difficult driving conditions. It’s pointless discussing if we managed things as well as we could: we will calmly analyse the evolution of the three sessions to see where we need to improve. However, now we must only think about tomorrow’s race, which looks like being very unpredictable from every point of view, starting with the weather. This morning, in the dry, we saw that the F2012 is reasonably competitive, but also that the opposition is very strong. We will try and do our best, as usual. Clearly, when defining the strategies and how they will evolve during the race, the weather will play a key role.”

Qualifying session

Q1 ALO 5th 1.46.515 10 MAS 13th 1.47.401 10
Q2 MAS 6th 1.56.388 8 ALO 9th 1.56.921 9
Q3 ALO 1st 1.51.746 6 MAS 5th 1.53.065 6

Weather: air 19 °C, track 20/23 °C; cloudy, rain. Chassis: Alonso 295, Massa 294

British GP – Pole…eventually
Silverstone, 7 July – Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow’s British Grand Prix, the ninth round of the World Championship, from pole position. Felipe Massa is on the inside of Row 3 in fifth place. Those two simple sentences relate the facts behind Scuderia Ferrari’s first pole of the season and its best overall qualifying performance, taking both cars into consideration. However, they do not begin to tell the story of a Silverstone Saturday afternoon that included nail-biting times for the Prancing Horse personnel.

As expected, this morning’s dry final hour of free practice was just a diversion, an interlude in a weekend where the top story has been the weather, both because of its effect on the on-track action and the chaos it has caused, mainly for the spectators, who nevertheless are here in their tens of thousands as usual. So, it was hardly surprising when a light drizzle began to fall in the run up to the start of Q1. That first part of the proceedings saw a track damp enough to require Intermediates, at the end of which Fernando was fifth and Felipe thirteenth. When it was time for Q2, the rain had intensified and the Scuderia had its first lucky break, when Fernando survived a high speed spin without hitting anything and was able to continue to return to the pits. However, both men were well outside the Q3 zone when the session was red flagged as the conditions had become too dangerous to continue. Thus began a long and tense wait which lasted over an hour. After the restart, the Ferrari men kept their cool and both made it through to Q3, where, as Fernando said, it was all about being in the right place at the right time, on the right tyres. The Spaniard’s last lap evidently fitted these criteria as it saw him take pole position.

Joining him on the front row tomorrow will be Mark Webber for Red Bull, while the second row features the German duo of Michael Schumacher, third for Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel fourth in the other Red Bull. Felipe has his former team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, on his outside on Row 3. Predictions for tomorrow’s 52 laps of this famous airfield are pointless as the rain is expected to be on hand once again. However, what one can say is that the F2012 evidently performs well on a wet track and, as far as Fernando is concerned, assuming he can get off the line ahead of the rest, he will have the great advantage of good visibility on this high speed track.