Fernando Alonso: “This qualifying has been as difficult as the rest of the weekend, even if in some races, starting eleventh on new tyres can help, so let’s hope that’s the case here. It is without a doubt better to make it through to Q3 but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a very clean lap and I didn’t manage to make it by a few tenths. This is one of the tracks where we suffer a bit more than usual, but in general our Sunday performance is better and so, again this time, our approach to the race is positive. We must absolutely get a good start, stay focussed and run a perfect race if we want to take points towards our aim of finishing second in the Constructors’, because it will be a tough fight. We have seen that in the heat, the Softs work better than the Mediums and so logic dictates we should start on the softer tyre while it’s still daytime and switch to Mediums when darkness falls. Clearly, we have to see how things go”.
Felipe Massa: “I am pleased with my qualifying and things went better than I’d expected. All weekend, we haven’t been competitive enough and after this morning’s free practice, I was worried I wouldn’t make it to Q3, but then, thanks to a lap where I got the maximum out of the car, combined with the drop in temperature, I managed to make up a few places. Today I did all I could and I think that without a bit of oversteer at the final corner, I could have done even better. This track does not suit our car, as you need good traction and the high temperature doesn’t help either, but the race is run in the evening and I hope that will allow us to bring home those important points we need right now, even if it’s definitely not going to be easy”.
Pat Fry: “Right from the start of the weekend, we have struggled to be competitive at this track and the outcome of qualifying reflects the hierarchy through the field that we have seen since the start. Even though we worked a lot on improving the balance of both cars, we continued to suffer from a lack of grip, especially in the third sector where our rivals make the difference. In the first two sectors, we do not have any particular difficulties and we can maintain split times that are not far off those of the best, but in the final sector the gap gets bigger which has badly effected the overall lap time. When the temperature dropped, we managed to make the tyres work better, which meant the car was more reactive, even if it was not enough to allow our drivers to secure better positions. Tomorrow, we will face a very difficult race, in which it will be vital to avoid traffic in the first stint as much as possible and so we are banking on a clean start. We will have to do everything perfectly if we want to help our drivers in their quest to bring home as many points as possible”.
Abu Dhabi GP – All to be revealed in the dark
Yas Marina, 2 November – The bare facts are that Fernando Alonso failed to get into the final part of qualifying for the very first time this season. But there’s a separation between one’s perception of that fact as a terrible showing and the reality, which is that the Spanish Ferrari man is eleventh on the grid, on the clean side of the track. In other words, it’s not as bad as the shock of seeing him giving interviews to the press while the final top ten shoot out was still going on. As for his team-mate Felipe Massa, the Brazilian had a good afternoon, taking into account the shortcomings of the F138 on a track that plays to qualities that are not our car’s strong points, like the need for good grunt out of slow corners and the ability to operate well in very hot conditions. The Brazilian got the very most out of his car, first of all to squeeze into the final top ten shoot-out by the skin of his teeth and then by hoisting his way up to a fourth row start in eighth place.
The Brazilian shares his row with Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, while the Spanish Ferrari man finds himself on the inside of Paul di Resta’s Force India on Row 6. With both Mercedes ahead of our pairing, as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton monopolise Row 2 as well as Lotus being in front; the aforementioned Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen up in fifth spot, the fight for the Prancing Horse’s current target for this final part of the season, taking second place in the Constructors’ classification, is hardly an easy task. So, it’s a case of looking for that usual Sunday turnaround, of which there have been plenty this season. The key ingredients are the redoubtable starting abilities of our two drivers, their ability to pick a line past those ahead of them when the lights go out, combined with a good race pace, excellent pit stops and a well planned strategy. Everything will be revealed tomorrow, once it gets dark.
Once again, it’s the two Red Bull drivers who will have an unimpeded view of the lights going out tomorrow. For only the second time this season, Mark Webber has taken pole, beating Sebastian Vettel.
Abu Dhabi GP – Fourth row for Massa, sixth for Alonso
Yas Marina, 2 November – Dusk in the desert did not prove propitious for Scuderia Ferrari. At the end of a busy session, Felipe Massa finished eighth and Fernando Alonso failed to make the cut into Q3 and will start tomorrow’s race from eleventh on the grid.
In Q1, both men set good times, doing a first run on Mediums before switching to the Softs, as did all 22 cars on track. Felipe was second with a 1.41.254 and Fernando was fifth in 1.41.397.
Q2 began with a run on the Softs from the previous session and in the last four minutes, everyone switched to new ones. At this point the F138s began to struggle more than expected. While Massa secured the tenth place in 1.40.989 to go through to the final shoot out, Alonso only just missed out, having to settle for eleventh in 1.41.093.
In the final part, Massa went out on track towards the end, doing just one run, using the final set of Softs available. The Brazilian was eighth fastest in 1.41.015. Pole went to Mark Webber in the Red Bull in a time of 1.39.957.
Abu Dhabi GP – Scorching session
Yas Marina, 2 November – Saturday’s final free practice session saw another Red Bull one-two at the top of the time sheet, as the Formula 1 circus prepares to tackle the seventeenth round of season. Sebastian Vettel was fastest round the ultra-modern track with a time of 1.41.349, ahead of Mark Webber (1.41.571.) Lewis Hamilton was third in the Mercedes in 1.41.580. The two Ferraris are quite a way back, with Fernando Alonso (1.42.516) and Felipe Massa (1.42.702) eleventh and fourteenth respectively. The Spaniard did 15 laps in his F138, one more than the Brazilian. Both men tested both the Medium and the Soft Pirellis, while making final set up changes in preparation for the all-important qualifying session.