Fernando Alonso: “Today went well compared to qualifying at recent races, with the car being competitive, allowing us to fight with the best. Of course, we weren’t at the same level as Red Bull, who yet again here have gone well all weekend, but the race is tomorrow and we start from what is all the same a good position. Here at Monza the slipstreaming strategy is often used: having a car three to four seconds ahead of you allows you to gain a few tenths and for that I must thank Felipe, especially in Q3 when I came up behind Vergne’s Toro Rosso and he waited for me. The radio messages have been misunderstood, as is often the case when you don’t experience something first hand: the word ‘genius’ refers to the fact that we could have got out before Rosberg had gone by on his quick lap, but this should not raise any doubts about the impeccable job from the whole team. Today, we were able to run competitively in all three sessions and get closer than ever before to the rear wings of the Red Bulls: for the first time, there are not so many cars between them and us, apart from Hulkenberg who was very strong in Q3. We will have to try and pass him on the first lap so they don’t get away from us”.
Felipe Massa: “I am very pleased with this qualifying result because, compared to yesterday, the car has improved and this makes me confident for the race. In Q3, I managed to put together a very good lap, making the most of Webber’s slipstream. It was a great help having him ahead of me by four seconds and even if maybe I lost time at Ascari, I am still satisfied with my performance. We were well aware that at a track like this, it would be very important to have both cars in the top four and that tomorrow’s race will be a tough one. Even if the weather forecast is uncertain, we will be ready for anything and will try our best to get all the potential out of our car. It would be fantastic to give all the fans who are here at our home race to support us with so much affection a reason to be happy”.
Pat Fry: “After the results obtained in the last five or six races, we can be satisfied with our performance here today at Monza and with the positions from which Fernando and Felipe will start tomorrow’s race. Certainly, our aim is never just the second or third row, but fourth and fifth places on the grid are the result of a great job from the entire team over this weekend, in which we paid maximum attention to choosing the best possible package for this track. We knew it would be a particularly close qualifying, as can be seen from the seven tenths that separate the 16 drivers as they went from Q1 to Q2. We took nothing for granted and even if the pace of the top two today was not within our grasp, we knew we could count on a quick and competitive car. Now, we are already concentrating all our attention on the race, because that’s the only thing that really counts and it will also allow us to analyse the overall performance of our car”.
|ALONSO – Chassis 299||MASSA – Chassis 298|
|Q1||P7||1:24.661||New Hard – 6 laps||P14||1:24.950|| New Hard – 7 laps
New Medium – 2 laps
|Q2||P2||1:24.227||New Medium – 3 laps||P7||1:24.479|| Used Medium – 3 laps
New Medium – 3 laps
|Q3||P5||1:24.142|| New Medium – 3 laps
New Medium – 3 laps
|P4||1:24.132|| Used Medium – 3 laps
New Medium – 3 laps
|Weather: air 30 °C, track 44 °C. Sunny|
Italian GP – Five out of ten for Ferrari
One could feel the excitement go up a notch or two driving into the Monza circuit this morning, as yesterday’s big crowd grew even larger, with fans flocking to watch the spectacle of the fastest qualifying of the year. It was a session packed with exciting moments and the overall result for Scuderia Ferrari is a very positive one.
It has been repeated so many times this year that qualifying is not exactly a strong point for the F138 and normally Fernando and Felipe have to fight it out with at least three other top teams, usually in the shape of Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus. However, today, with the very surprising exception of an on form Nico Hulkenberg securing third place for Sauber, the only rivals preventing the Ferrari duo from having a clear view of the run down to the first corner tomorrow are the Red Bulls of pole man Sebastian Vettel and his team-mate Mark Webber.
Aware that competing with Red Bull using conventional means would be difficult, the Ferrari strategists decided to try and boost their performance by slipstreaming, the driving trick that this circuit is famous for and which led to it boasting the closest ever finish to a Grand Prix in 1971, when Peter Gethin won by just one hundredth of a second and even fourth placed Mike Hailwood was less than two tenths behind the winner! This involved getting Felipe to run ahead of Fernando with the aim of punching a hole in the air that the Spaniard could then drive through with an added boost of speed. In the end, it didn’t really work out, partly because a Toro Rosso threw up a huge dust cloud after going through the gravel at the final Parabolica corner just ahead of Fernando. In fact, inadvertently, Red Bull aided our cause, as Felipe admitted he got a great “tow” from Mark Webber’s car, which helped reduce his lap time! That contributed to the Brazilian setting the fourth fastest time, while the Spaniard is fifth, with Nico Rosberg alongside him on the outside of Row 3 in the Mercedes.
Another interesting aspect on this circuit where speed is king and power holds the key, is the fact that thanks to the aforementioned Hulkenberg and both Toro Rossos, five cars out of the top ten on tomorrow’s grid are powered by a Ferrari engine. Now, the biggest unknown for tomorrow’s twelfth round of the world championship could be the weather, as storms are predicted. The Scuderia is ready for whatever the weather and the opposition can throw at it.
Italian GP – A thrilling spectacle. Fourth and fifth for the Scuderia
Monza,7 September – Monza was true to form, delivering a great show for the crowds that packed the grandstands for qualifying. Scuderia Ferrari finished fourth and fifth with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso respectively.
In Q1, the two Prancing Horse cars took to the track on the Hard tyre, with the Spaniard setting a time of 1.24.661 on his first run, completing 6 laps. Massa lapped in 1.24.950 and then came out again to be on the safe side to do a run on the Medium compound, but he only did an in-out lap as it became clear a timed one was unnecessary, going through in fourteenth place.
In Q2, the two F138s ran Mediums, Alonso doing a single run to be second in 1.24.227. Massa did two runs to set the seventh time in 1.24.479.
In the final part of the session, the plan was for two runs on Mediums and on the final flying lap Alonso and Massa improved their times, even after Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso had thrown up a cloud of dust at the Parabolica ahead of Fernando, who stopped the clock in 1.24.142. Felipe’s best lap was a 1.24.132 Sebastian Vettel took pole in 1.23.755.
Italian GP – Final tweaks
Monza, 7 September – Sebastian Vettel was fastest in this morning’s third and final free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix, at the Monza circuit. Having been fastest yesterday in FP2, the Red Bull man set a time of 1.24.360 today, while in second place on the time sheet with a 1.24.643 was Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. Third in the other Red Bull was Mark Webber with a 1.24.677, while in the other F138, Felipe Massa posted a 1.24.995 to take seventh place on the time sheet. Both Ferrari men started the session with a new set of Hard tyres before ending on the Medium compound.