It was a tough day at the Ferrari office in Valencia and even though crowd-favorite Fernando Alonso performed well, he is mired in the midfield for the start of the European Grand Prix on Sunday. It was a bit of an eye-opener for the Spaniard and his equally challenged teammate Felipe Massa as they both felt the car was on good form. Alonso said:
“I think how close the times were. From a handling point of view, driving the car, everything was good” he said.
“In Montreal we were four tenths from the quickest in Q2, and here we were two tenths from the quickest in Q2.
“Performance wise it is one of the best performances for us this year. Position wise, it is one of the worst.
“We were not quick enough,” he said. “Normally if you get into Q3 it is because you deserve it and because you do the job. We will try to recover tomorrow and try to gain some positions.”
You have to admit that being two tenths off the pace and out in Q3 is a fiercely competitive field. If McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is right, Lotus F1 cars could be spoilers in Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel’s bid to take three win from three races in Valencia Sunday as the German starts from pole position. If Alonso is right, four tenths in the 2012 season is simply not quick enough and Ferrari’s numerous upgrade packages this week had little effect in qualifying.
It’s a long race and plenty can happen. The weather will be hot and the tires will be touchy. In the end, the strategy wonks on the pit wall will have their work cut out for them and the driver who can find pace, tire management, clean air and patience may do well.