October 5th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa set the sixth and seventh fastest times in Q3 respectively during qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix. They each move up one place on the grid due to Mark Webber's 10-place grid penalty and will therefore start the race fifth and sixth, making up an all-Ferrari third row.
But despite expecting to struggle in qualifying, Alonso and Massa are not happy with the result and understandably so. Alonso was eight tenths of a second slower than pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel and Massa was a full second off the pace. Even more frustratingly for Ferrari, their usual strong long-run pace does not seem to be presesnt this weekend, suggesting that they are in for quite a long Sunday afternoon if the weather stays dry.
Fernando Alonso is in desperate need of a win to revitalise his championship hopes. If Vettel triumphs again tomorrow (it would be his fourth consecutive victory) it will become all but impossible for Alonso to take the title.
Felipe Massa has been pushing Alonso hard for the last few races. He outqualified his team leader in Singapore but finished behind him. This weekend, the two Ferraris have been running at similar pace, which creates the possibility of a battle between the team-mates in tomorrow's race.
Alonso has made stunning race starts throughout the season, and will need to pull another one out of the bag tomorrow if he is to keep Vettel in sight during the race.
This is what the Ferrari drivers had to say after qualifying:
Fernando Alonso: “I am not surprised at the outcome of this qualifying session, because in terms of pure performance, Saturday is always difficult for us and will continue to be so until the end of the season.
"Usually, on Sunday, things go better and our aim is always to get to the podium, as has happened in recent races. This weekend seems harder than usual, because while up until now we have always had a good race pace, both yesterday and today we suffered on the long runs and that means we must absolutely improve for tomorrow.
"We have a few problems with the tyres which we are unable to manage as well as the others: there’s a lot of graining and if you push very hard in the first sector you almost risk being unable to finish the lap. We will have to find the right compromise to get them to survive the number of laps proposed by our engineers, because the ideal strategy is still a two stop. Given how we look in the dry, the rain could mix things up and in fact we have nothing to lose and even if there will be little time to adapt to it, we must be ready for this eventuality”.
Felipe Massa: “I can’t be happy with the result of qualifying, as I expected to be closer to our rivals than in Singapore. But that wasn’t the case, because here too, both Red Bull and Mercedes had a much faster pace and we didn’t manage to get everything out of our car.
"Tomorrow I hope to be more competitive, even if it won’t be an easy race. The degradation on the Supersofts on our car is rather high, while other cars are suffering less, and based on how the first stint goes, we will decide if we should switch to the Mediums, which at the moment seems like the best choice.
"Apart from Red Bull, Mercedes and one Lotus ahead of us, we will have to be very careful about other cars that are also very close and it will be important to get a very good start, trying to push to the maximum to bring home a reasonable points haul. It would definitely require a lot of luck to make it to the podium.”