ferrari-logo-2011Singapore GP – Brave choices

Stefano Domenicali: “I am happy with the performance of the team on a weekend that was not easy for us and on a day when unfortunately, it was the wrong Bull that stopped. Clearly, with yet another win for Vettel, to whom I send my congratulations, the Drivers’ Championship situation is becoming difficult, but until the outcome is a mathematical certainty, we will continue to push. I don’t think we could have picked up many more points today, which all the same have strengthened, albeit only slightly, our position in the Constructors’ Championship. A reasonably clear scenario emerged from Friday’s practice, in which apart from the leaders being very strong, we were also up against Mercedes and Lotus, who were also back to being very competitive here in Singapore. We finished ahead of them in unfavourable conditions and this should motivate us to give it our all over the last six races. We definitely have to be realistic about our chances, even if we have a duty to ourselves and those working in Maranello, to try and score as many points as possible, because we don’t want to give up on doing well in both classifications. We have seen how performance levels can change depending on the circuits and during the coming week we will prepare to tackle the Korea-Japan doubleheader in the best way possible”.

Fernando Alonso: “Today’s second place is like a victory for us, at the end of a difficult weekend on a track where it’s very tricky to overtake. The key points of this race were the start and the strategy and, in both cases, the decisions taken proved to be the right ones, even if they were aggressive choices. At the start, I managed to pass four cars, helped by having watched the starts from previous races here, but then I couldn’t pass Rosberg. The decision to pit when the Safety Car came out paid off, even if it wasn’t easy to get to the finish with the tyres on the limit. Fortunately, thanks to the advantage I had over Raikkonen and Webber, we were able to manage the situation over the final laps: if I’d been in a group, it would have been like the end of a horror movie! Now the gap to the championship leaders has increased and apart from congratulating them, because they deserve to be where they are, we must be realistic, because to win the title now, we would need a lot of luck. Sure, we cannot think of giving up right now because if that luck does show up, then we will be there to take it”.

Felipe Massa: “Given everything that happened in today’s race, sixth place is a really good result. After a fantastic start, at the first corner I found myself stuck inside the cars that had braked early and, at that point I lost places instead of making up some. From then on, I was always stuck behind other cars and we all know how hard it is to overtake at this track. When the Safety Car came out, we had two options: to fit the Medium tyres, with which we weren’t sure to go all the way to the end, or the Supersofts, to try and regain some places. We went for the second option, but Di Resta was ahead of me on the same tyres and so I was stuck behind him. In the final stint after the third stop, I managed to retake sixth place, making the most of the fact that many were struggling with their tyres. It was tough from start to finish and I am very happy to have brought home a good points haul”.

Pat Fry: “This weekend, even if we didn’t have the fastest car, we did manage to maximise our performance getting everything possible out of our driver-team package and the result is absolutely positive. With Fernando, the decision to stay out all the way to the end after the Safety Car paid off handsomely. Our competitiveness in the race was better than we had seen in the previous days, but even if we knew that things could change today, we must try to improve, especially in situations where the track characteristics don’t suit our car. Fernando pulled off an amazing start, as it’s really rare to make up four places at the start here in Singapore. Felipe also got away well, but then, his inside line meant he had to move over to avoid a collision. At Fernando’s first stop, we had to cover Webber’s early stop: we knew we would have found ourselves in traffic behind Di Resta, but the pit stop window was very limited and we preferred not to take the risk. When the Safety Car came out, we had half a lap to take a decision and, in the end we brought both drivers in, trying different strategies. We tried to play an ace with Fernando and luckily we did not have to go through a repeat of what happened in Canada in 2012. For the final six races, one group of engineers will still concentrate on the F138, because we want to continue to try and improve so that we can be more competitive”.

Singapore GP – Spaniard Sensational in Singapore

Singapore, 22 September – Many believe Fernando Alonso is being fanciful when he says the Drivers’ championship is not decided yet. However, one has to admire his determination after tonight’s incredible drive to second place under the spotlights at Marina Bay. Felipe Massa also delivered a strong performance, taking the chequered flag in the same sixth place from which he started the race. Fernando’s race featured two tyre changes, the Brazilian’s three. The Spanish Ferrari driver also talked about being realistic earlier this weekend and sure enough, the need for realism took its usual form, as Sebastian Vettel was simply on a different planet taking another well-deserved victory for Red Bull. Joining them on the podium, having struggled with back pain for much of the weekend, was Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus.

As the lights went out, Rosberg briefly passed Vettel but the pole man got it back at the first chicane, while Fernando made a blistering start to go third at the first corner, by just driving along the wall, ahead of Grosjean and Webber and that was the move on which his second place was built. Felipe maintained his sixth place grid position, after briefly ceding it to Hamilton’s Mercedes. By this time leader Vettel in the Red Bull had already built up a gap of over 4 seconds to second placed Rosberg in the Mercedes. Fernando was 1.2s behind the German.

The gaps grew bigger so that by lap 4, Vettel led Rosberg by 6.2, with Fernando 2.2 behind and 1.2 ahead of Webber in the other Red Bull. Grosjean’s Lotus was under a second behind the Australian, with Felipe exactly 1.0 behind the Frenchman, with a 0.8 cushion over Hamilton in the Mercedes. The rest of the top ten was made up of Button, Hulkenberg and Perez. Raikkonen brought his Lotus down pit lane to start the first run of changes, rejoining with another set of Supersofts. Lap 11 saw Fernando put in a fastest race lap. Several cars at the lower end of the order came in for tyres on that same lap. Felipe made his first stop, fitting the harder tyre on lap 12, dropping to 13th.

Webber, Button and Hulkenberg all pitted on lap 13, the Australian taking on Mediums. Fernando came in next time round, also fitting the Medium tyre, dropping to sixth behind Di Resta’ Force India. Rosberg came in from second on lap 15, as did Grosjean and the German’s team-mate Hamilton. With Vettel yet to pit, the order behind him was Rosberg, Di Resta, also on zero stops, with Fernando fourth, right on the Scotsman’s gearbox, losing precious time to the two leaders. Vettel changed to the Mediums on lap 17, keeing the lead, while Fernando was still trying all he could to pass Di Resta, the only driver not to have pitted at this stage.

Finally, on lap 20 of the 61 lap race, Fernando had some clean air ahead of him as Di Resta came down pit lane and the Ferrari man set about cutting back the 7.5s gap to second placed Rosberg. The Spaniard trailed the leader by over 16 seconds, while Felipe was seventh, 3.4 behind Hamilton and 1.5 ahead of Button. The race was settling into a pattern until lap 24 when Ricciardo crashed the Toro Rosso into the barriers which brought out the most familiar site at the Marina Bay Circuit, the Safety Car. Fernando, Felipe, Grosjean, Button, Raikkonen, Perez, Hulkenberg and Gutierez and Maldonado all dived into the pits to take advantage of the race being neutralised. Fernando was now on another set of Mediums, but Felipe returned to the Supersofts. The Spaniard rejoined in fifth place behind the Safety Car, the highest runner to have made a second tyre change at this point, with Felipe eighth. In fact, the SC helped Fernando a little bit, as it cancelled out much of the time lost behind the Force India.

The race was live again on lap 30 and it was a repeat of the opening scenario, with Vettel immediately pulling out a lead of over 3 seconds on Rosberg, with the rest of the field tightly packed behind the Mercedes, in the order, Webber, Hamilton, Fernando in fifth, Grosjean, Di Resta, with Felipe eighth, now held up by the Force India and Button and Raikkonen completing the top ten. Grosjean had a long pit stop with a technical issue on lap 33. He then pitted again to retire, which promoted Felipe to sixth. Webber and Sutil made their second stops on lap 40, so Fernando was now fourth. Next time round Rosberg changed tyres, so Fernando was back in a podium position again, with 20 laps remaining.

Felipe and Di Resta came in together on lap 42, the Brazilian dropping to twelfth. Lap 43 and Hamilton switched to another set of Mediums, so that Fernando was now second, half a minute behind Vettel on older Primes, but the German brought the Red Bull in on lap 44 for a final change, with enough of a margin over the Ferrari man to maintain his lead. Lap 54 saw Raikkonen pass Button to secure a trip to the bottom step of the podium. At this point Felipe was ninth, but with Di Resta crashing out, the McLarens spiralling down the order and Webber’s car expiring, the last handful of laps meant Felipe was back where he started in sixth to give a welcome boost to the Scuderia’s points fund.

In an amusing post-race moment, Fernando was not alone when he returned to parc ferme on his slowing down lap, as he stopped to give Webber a lift home, the Australian perched on the side pod of the F138! Now there’s a two week break until Korea – Japan, the first of three sets of back-to-back races.

Singapore GP – Alonso a brilliant second, Massa sixth

Singapore, 22 September – Scuderia Ferrari finished the Singapore Grand Prix in second place with Fernando Alonso and sixth with Felipe Massa. The Spaniard thus consolidates his second place in the Drivers’ classification, with 187 points. The Scuderia picked up more points than any other team tonight, strengthening its second place in the Constructors’ championship.

Both Ferrari men started on the Supersoft tyres and, as the lights went out, Alonso got a great start, making up four places to lie third at the first chicane. Massa dropped one place to his team-mate, but passed Hamilton in the Mercedes to retain sixth.

Felipe pitted on lap 12 to fit Medium tyres, with Fernando doing the same two laps later. The Safety Car came out on lap 25 and both Ferrari men pitted for their second stop, the Spaniard again fitting Mediums, the Brazilian switching back to Supersoft. Massa made his third and final tyre change on lap 42, fitting Mediums for the final stint. However, Alonso stayed out, doing no less than 36 laps on the same tyres. It allowed the Spaniard to stay second, crossing the line behind the winner, Sebastian Vettel and ahead of third placed Kimi Raikkonen.

The final stages witnessed a great climb up the order for Felipe Massa. Having dropped to fourteenth after his final stop, he worked his way up all the way back to sixth place at the flag.