March 30th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - The Malaysian Grand Prix was a race of mixed fortunes for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso finishing a fairly strong fourth while Kimi Raikkonen was 12th and out of the points as a result of contact with Kevin Magnussen.
Although he was not really able to challenge for the podium, Alonso expressed satisfaction that his team has managed to improved the Ferrari F14 T over the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend. He said after the race, "The points scored today are the result of a trouble free weekend, in which the small improvements on the car worked as we had expected and it ran very reliably."
Although the weekend went reasonably well for Alonso, he remains aware that there is a long way to go before Ferrari can challenge for race victories. He explained: "We definitely have a lot more work to do, because while we are moving forward, the others are doing the same. Everyone in our team is doing their utmost to close down the gap."
Alonso highlighted straight-line speed as an issue for Ferrari, making a comparison to the Mercedes-engined Force India: "There’s still a lot to learn in these early races, but it’s no secret that we definitely need to improve our top speed, as could be seen from my duel with Hulkenberg. I was able to get him thanks to fresher tyres, but we definitely need to up our performance right from the very next race."
Looking forward to the next race , Alonso expressed hope that Ferrari could find more performance in Bahrain. He said, "It will be very hot in Bahrain and the tyre compounds [will be] softer. This might be an advantage to us, because on the harder tyres we are sliding a lot. Also, from the data we gathered there during winter testing, we might be able to extract more of our potential, but that will apply to everyone.”
If Alonso was satisfied with his race day, Raikkonen was quite the opposite. He made a strong start, but then had his right-rear tyre punctured by Kevin Magnussen as the Dane attempted to get close enough in turn one to set up a pass in the next few corners. Magnussen received a 5-second stop/go penalty for his infringement, but that was small consolation to Raikkonen, who had to limp round to the pits for almost an entire lap.
By the time Raikkonen rejoined the race, he had lost so much time that it was highly unlikely that he would finish in the points. He went for it anyway, making some good passes, but ultimately finished 12th after trying unsuccessfully to pass his former Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean in the closing laps of the race.
Raikkonen described his less than satisfactory afternoon:
“I am very disappointed with how this race turned out, because I got a good start, but then the collision with Magnussen damaged my right rear tyre, which meant I had to make an extra stop. That wiped out any chance I had of fighting for a good finish. After the accident, the car’s handling was not the same, as the tyre had caused damage to the floor, which led to a loss of downforce.
On my first set of tyres, I had some difficulties and it was only after the final stop, when I fitted the Mediums that it went better, but by then it was too late. Hard to say how things might have gone without that problem, because our rivals were very quick, but maybe I could have finished close to Fernando. It was a really unlucky day, but overall we managed to improve our performance and now we must concentrate on the positive aspects of this weekend and work to improve starting already next week in Bahrain.”
After two races in 2014, Alonso is third in the Drivers' Championship on 24 points, 19 points behind championship leader Nico Rosberg. Raikkonen is ninth in the standings with just six points from the first race in Australia. Ferrari are third in the Constructors' Championship on 30 points, 38 behind championship leaders Mercedes.