Fernando Alonso says that Ferrari missed a trick today after it struggled for grip and lost performance relative to its rivals.
Having made some set-up changes the team struggled for grip this morning and had to go back to Friday’s spec. The drivers struggled with warm-up of the hard tyre, so had to use a soft set in Q1, which meant they were compromised because they then had fewer sets for the rest of qualifying.
Nevertheless he’s not disappointed to be only fifth on the grid in Australia, despite the Italian team being widely regarded as the biggest threat to Red Bull this year.
“We were not super competitive today from the practice,” said Alonso. “The qualifying we took a very conservative approach, we knew that if we risk, maybe we are fourth, if we took a very safe qualifying we are fifth or sixth. It was not the time to do any risks in the first race of the championship, but unfortunately we found ourselves with only one set in Q3, we tried to do our best, and as I said I think fifth position is more or less what we expected before qualifying, and a position we are happy with. The distance from pole, we are not so happy, and it’s what we have to look at and analyse.”
Alonso said that a lack of grip was the essential problem.
“Yesterday it felt a little bit better, more overall grip, better balance. Today straight away, Felipe or me, we said less grip than yesterday, track conditions a little bit worse, but the other people were better than yesterday. We missed something today that we need to understand a little bit better.
“Also the distance from Toro Rosso, Sauber, Renault, we knew from winter testing and yesterday we were around one second in front of them, today it was only two or three tenths. So it was something lacking in our car. We will try to do a good race tomorrow, and in Sepang we need to be closer to the pole for sure.
“Obviously you never know. Until you arrive to the first qualifying of the season it’s only rumours, it’s only a guess. Today it’s true it was very big, the gap, but yesterday it looked quite close to be honest, to them and to McLaren. I expect that this was not the normal pace from us and we will get better and better tomorrow.”