June 9th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - When Felipe Massa crashed during qualifying on Saturday, things were looking down for Ferrari in Canada. But in the race, Alonso and Massa delivered, each fighting hard to make up significant ground over the 70 laps. Alonso finished second from sixth on the grid, while Felipe Massa came home eighth after starting down in 16th place.
Alonso was visibly relieved on the podium. He knew that his performance in Canada could prove crucial to the outcome of this year's World Championship. That being said, Alonso is now 36 points behind Sebastian Vettel, who is beginning to make his title defence look all too easy. Alonso's race was characterised by aggressive chasing and decisive overtaking. His duel with Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race was thrilling to watch, and it was almost a pity when he finally made it past the Mercedes - it meant the duel was over.
From early on in the race it was clear that Felipe Massa was taking no prisoners. There was plenty of speed available in the Ferrari and he used it to make his way into the points fairly early in the race, throwing his car into passing moves with gusto along the way. It was a demonstration that his recent accidents have not affected his confidence behind the wheel - Massa crashed twice heavily during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, and had his qualifying session in Canada cut short by a crash in Q2.
But impressive as Massa's drive was, there is still more required. Alonso is second in the championship and has won two races this season. Massa, by contrast, is seventh in the points table, with just over half the points Alonso has, and has not won a race since 2008. He has a competitve car this season, and he needs to deliver results in it if he is to continue his Ferrari career beyond the end of the year.
Ferrari's strong race puts them second in the Constructors' Championship, 56 points behind Red Bull and 11 points ahead of Mercedes.
This is what the team had to say after the race:
Stefano Domenicali: “Today, we absolutely had to make up for the difficult day we had yesterday, because we knew the more normal weather would allow us to demonstrate our true potential. The podium was in our sights and we can claim to have hit the target, in a race that was complicated from start to finish by our grid positions.
"Fernando produced an absolutely extraordinary performance, especially when taking into account that today, our competitors operated at a really high level. Felipe also showed exactly what he could do: managing to bring home points after starting from the back was the best response to those who felt he was affected by the unfortunate incidents of the last few days.
"I must congratulate the winners, because even if it’s easier to get the job done when starting at the front, it’s also true that they managed to produce a perfect qualifying, a task which we know we must improve on. Today’s race demonstrated how two of our closest rivals, Red Bull and Mercedes, have managed to make a step forward and that’s the same direction we are working in, so that we can be contenders right to the end of the Championship”.
Fernando Alonso: “At the end of an extremely complicated weekend, this second place tastes like a win, because we were competitive and managed to fight with the front running drivers. You never feel in danger with them, because, even wheel to wheel at 320 kilometres per hour, they have the necessary intelligence and experience to know to leave a margin of safety.
"The overtaking moves on the two Mercedes had an almost identical dynamic, although maybe the pass on Hamilton was more intense because we were running at the same pace, while with Rosberg, I knew it was only a matter of the laps going by, thanks to the advantage of having the Medium tyres, while he was on the Supersoft.
"In terms of points this is a great result: now we only have Vettel ahead of us, who was untouchable here and deserved the victory. Even if he has increased his lead, there’s still a long way to go in the championship and there’s plenty of time to catch up. I don’t know if I could have done better if I’d started further up. Qualifying, even in the wet, is our weak point and an aspect we absolutely must improve on: we are working very hard on that, both back home and at the track.”
Felipe Massa: “I am very happy with my race today, which was a real battle from start to finish. After going off the track yesterday, I knew it wouldn’t be easy starting from sixteenth place, but I also knew I had a good car and I tackled the race on the attack, managing to pull off several nice passing moves. However, because of a problem with graining, I lost precious time behind Sutil in the Force India: that’s why I think a strategy based on using two sets of Medium tyres would have seen me gain at least one or two places.
"Even if I can’t be satisfied with this result it was still a positive day, in which we showed we had a good pace and that we were able to fight. Now I’m looking ahead to the next race with a lot of confidence, because Silverstone is very similar to Shanghai and Barcelona, where our car worked very well”.
Pat Fry: “The long straights and the DRS zones at the Montreal track, which usually help with overtaking, meant we were hopeful of being able to race up the order, while aware that starting from sixth and sixteenth would not make that an easy task, especially as the performance levels of the front runners were very similar today.
"Fernando got a great start and managed to pass Bottas, moving up to fifth. From then on, he did an amazing job of managing his tyres, pushing at the most opportune moments which brought him in touch with the leaders. The climb up to second place was a performance worthy of his talent, with some daring passing moves, like the one on Hamilton.
"Felipe fought hard all race long, also pulling off several overtaking moves, including a very important one on Raikkonen right at the end. Maybe if we had opted to fit Mediums at his first stop, Felipe could have gained another place.
"From the pit wall, we had to manage the race for both drivers in very different track conditions to what we experienced in the past couple of days and all in all, after all the difficulties we encountered yesterday, it was a good result. Now, our priority is still to improve our qualifying performance and on this front, we will try to do that right from the next race in Silverstone”.