Friday, March 16, 2012

Alonso: Balance good, car responds well

Fernando Alonso: It is always a pleasure to be back at a Grand Prix after the winter break: everyone is out on track together and there's the crowd, so it is always a nice feeling

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was feeling 'reasonably satisfied' after practice today for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

The Scuderia struggled somewhat during the pre-season tests, but despite that Alonso still ran well today posting the fourth quickest time in both free practice one and free practice two, his best lap a 1 minute 28.360 seconds.

Like all the drivers he was frustrated by the variable weather conditions, but he was pleased not to have any technical issues with his Ferrari F2012.

“It is always a pleasure to be back at a Grand Prix after the winter break: everyone is out on track together and there's the crowd, so it is always a nice feeling,” said the Spaniard. “It was a bit complicated trying to work through the programme we had planned for this Friday though because of the weather. Therefore there is still a bit of work to do tomorrow before qualifying, but I think the others are in a similar position.

“I am reasonably satisfied with the car: the initial feeling as to its balance is positive. However, we have not done the usual comparison between the two types of tyre, because we ran mainly on the intermediates and the Mediums and these seem to be behaving quite well, as far as degradation is concerned. It was important to have everything working perfectly – from the KERS to the engine, from the power steering to the gearbox and everything else, as is always the case on the opening day of the season – and that's how it went.”

Looking to qualifying he added the grid could be 'very mixed up': “There's no point looking at the time sheet from today with a view to making predictions for qualifying. Tomorrow I expect to see a very mixed up grid because there are so many teams that have done a good job over the winter,” he continued.

“We will try and do our best, putting together the best elements we have tried in the past weeks, including a few details we brought here.

“However, my opinion has not changed: we wait for tomorrow to see where we are compared to the others. But if I was to give some sort of opinion on the day, I would say it's been positive. We did the important things, the balance is good and the car responds well to changes.”

Felipe Massa meanwhile had a more trying day in the other Ferrari F2012 and was only 18th in FP1, after an off track excursion. He improved though in the second session and was seventh.

“After over three months, finally we are back to what we drivers like best, namely racing. However, today was a rather difficult first day back, because we could not do as many laps as we had planned,” Massa commented. “The rain complicated matters in both the first and the second session.

“In the first one, I also went off track, which cost me a bit of time: as I was braking, I got the left rear wheel on the grass and the car took off on its own, only stopping in the gravel on the escape road. In the second session, the rain meant the track was wet for a long time and only towards the end was I able to fit the dry tyres.

“All things considered, it wasn't really possible to understand much as to where we are compared to the others. I did too few laps to say if the car has changed since the last day of the Barcelona test.

“Tomorrow afternoon, in qualifying we will all run in the same conditions so we will finally understand something!”


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