Ferrari must improve qualifying “very soon”

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2013Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says improving their qualifying performance remains an urgent priority.

“We are not yet at the level we need to be at in qualifying,” said Domenicali after the Chinese Grand Prix, “but it’s hard to judge the level of our competitors because we have seen no one team dominate in the three races so far.”

“Clearly some of our rivals are very strong and matching them is a target we need to achieve very soon.”

Both Ferrari drivers have started inside the top five for all three races so far, but Felipe Massa’s second place in Malaysia has been the team’s only appearance on the front row.

Domenicali added there was a strategic imperative to qualifying higher up the grid: “It?s only by securing the best possible grid positions that we can use the full extent of the potential offered by our race pace. If you start from the front, you can manage the tyres in a better way too.”

He said Massa’s race in China showed the difficulty of managing the tyres when not leading: “I am just sorry for Felipe who was robbed of the chance to finish nearer the front, because of an issue with tyre graining.”

The team need to continue the momentum from Shanghai into this weekend’s race, added Domenicali: “If we want to achieve our ambitious targets over the course of the year, we need our drivers to perform well and the fact that both of them are in the top five of the classification after three races is important, but it is down to us to give them a good car.

“So we need to knuckle down to work to ensure we are well prepared and keep the momentum we found in Shanghai running all the way through this Bahrain weekend.”

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25 comments on Ferrari must improve qualifying “very soon”

  1. Mike (@mike) said on 16th April 2013, 12:23

    It’s nice to see that Ferrari really are giving support to Massa, or at least Domenicali is anyway. Massa was unlucky last race, it could have ended a lot better for him. Surely fighting for second at least.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 16th April 2013, 12:37

      The consequence of having a challenging tyre is that it can stretch the definition of luck. Ok, Massa was unfortunate to come out in traffic after his first stop (mostly the team’s fault for not pitting him earlier, and Felipe’s fault for not having more in reserve knowing he would have to pit after Alonso, rather than luck).

      The fact that his tyres were graining in subsequent stints is a result of Felipe not getting through traffic quickly enough, and resulting from his setup or driving style. I don’t think Alonso would have finished sixth if he had pitted a lap later.

      So is Felipe unlucky he that he cannot get the best out of the Pirelli tyres? In that case, many of the good and bad performances since the start of 2011 can be described as good and bad luck respectively.

      • Deb Luhi (@debeluhi) said on 17th April 2013, 6:38

        As usual Alonso fans underestimate the bad position Massa is racing in. I’m not saying that Massa is better driver than Alonso but it has to be acknowledged that Massa is racing with a handicap. With fast degrading soft tires the first car in the pits has a big advantage. At Ferrari Alonso has the first preference so he pitted first in China and first in Australia which allowed him to overtake Massa. You suggest that Massa could have preserved the tires. Probably, but he would have lose position to the cars behind him and even then those tires would have been slower that the brand new mediums Alonso had. After the pitstop Alonso raced against the cars on a different strategy so it wasn’t very hard for him to pass those cars. On the other hand, Massa was among fast cars with a same tires and that makes overtaking more difficult destroys the tires quickly. So I think Alonso fans should rely give him more credit rather than putting him down just to make thir idol look better.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 16th April 2013, 14:29

      Massa was P2 behinda Alonso, so a double pit stop like Mercedes did would be optimistic and he would’ve loose time anyway. He was unfortunate because those softs really go off drastically and an additional lap comes very costly, then he’s leaves in the middle of traffic and his race was turned upside down.

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 16th April 2013, 14:46

        @jcost, you’re right, I don’t think a double pit stop would have worked. But he could have pitted the lap before, if Ferrari had allowed him the undercut, and if they would not allow that, he should have hung back from Fernando and preserve his tyres, in the knowledge that he would have to do an extra lap on them – instead he was swarming all over the back of Fernando.

        Anyway, I’m not convinced that was the end of Massa’s race, although I also can’t remember exactly which cars were between Alonso and him after the first pit stop. I think Felipe has had two good stints this season: the first stint in Australia, and the first stint in China. He needs to find some race pace to be quick for an entire GP.

        In short, I don’t think Felipe has driven terribly, but I don’t think you can put his results down to bad luck either, as what happened to him was largely the result of his own actions and decisions.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th April 2013, 7:05

      Massa was unlucky because the team would not let him have the undercut at the first stop (stop at the same lap as Hamilton), even though his tyres were off worse he had to wait for Alonso to stop first. I would not call that unlucky, as its almost a given at Ferrari that he comes off the worse for strategy etc.

  2. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 16th April 2013, 12:36

    4 poles in the last 4 years? I agree here. If they can sort their qualifying out I think Ferrari will become the team to beat. The car on race pace, and on the starts especially, like with a lot of their cars in recent years, seems very good. However the qualifying pace does not. Whether that’s partly due to Alonso and Massa not being the best qualifiers on the grid or due to the car, I’m torn. It might be a bit of both however.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 16th April 2013, 15:06

      Whether that’s partly due to Alonso and Massa not being the best qualifiers on the grid or due to the car

      Well for Alonso we all know the theory of the anti-Ferrari and Vettel’s fans no need to reply, as for Massa you have to remember that when Ferrari used to have a car capable of poles he was even faster than Michael Shumacher and Kimi Raikkonnen in qualifying

      • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 16th April 2013, 15:32

        Massa showed up Raikkonen in qualifying when they were teammates from 2007-09; and with that, I mean that he scored twice as many pole positions. Enough said.

        Regarding Alonso, didn’t he have like 6 pole positions in a row in 2006? That itself should disprove the theory that he can’t qualify.

        Ferrari have two of the very quickest drivers on the grid. The qualy problem is down to the car, although not as bad as it was last year.

        • Nomore (@nomore) said on 16th April 2013, 15:53

          @kingshark
          +1 well said

        • Massa showed up Raikkonen in qualifying

          Raikkonen himself has never been a brilliant qualifier – just 16 poles in 179 starts. If only he’d gotten to drive some of those “Adrian Newey cars” I hear so much about …

          Regarding Alonso, didn’t he have like 6 pole positions in a row in 2006?

          Five, actually. How does five poles in a row in a dominant car like the R26 prove Alonso is one of the “very quickest drivers on the grid”?

          • @jonson

            Five, actually. How does five poles in a row in a dominant car like the R26 prove Alonso is one of the “very quickest drivers on the grid”?

            Vettel is considered a great qualifier is nt he? But I have not seen him get pole positions with slow cars either.. His pole positions have also come in cars that were very fast(most of the time the quickest)… by your logic Vettel cant be considered as a great qualifier either…
            Also people started saying Massa is a better qualifier when he out qualified fernando 4 in a row… they conveniently forgot that Massa was thrashed by Alonso in qualifying from 2010-2012…

            I just dont get the argument that Alonso is a poor qualifier …. he may not be the best out there as far as qualifying is considered…may be Hamilton and Vettel are a little bit stronger than him.. but I dont think he is poor qualifier.. the qualifying issue is with the car…

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 17th April 2013, 8:13

            @jonsan

            Five, actually. How does five poles in a row in a dominant car like the R26 prove Alonso is one of the “very quickest drivers on the grid”?

            You call the 2006 Renault a dominant car? Laughable. The Ferrari was at least as fast that season. Were you even watching?

            Some folks do have an agenda, in fact, some peoples agenda is so malicious that they will completely change the definition of a “dominant” car in order for it to suit their view!

            Oh, and just in case you didn’t remember, the F2006 won 9 out of 18 races in ’06, whereas the R26 only won 8.

          • I just dont get the argument that Alonso is a poor qualifier

            Compared to the rest of the grid, I don’t think he’s a “poor qualifier”. Compared to Vettel, Hamilton, and many “greats” of the sport, he is a poor qualifier. I’ve posted a lot of data to demonstrate this in the past. Can you tell me what if any data would change your mind?

            Vettel is considered a great qualifier is nt he? But I have not seen him get pole positions with slow cars either.. His pole positions have also come in cars that were very fast

            How do you know his cars were “very fast”? Mark Webber, who was once considered a very good qualifier, has been driving the same cars – and they have not looked “very fast” in his hands.

          • You call the 2006 Renault a dominant car?

            It was certainly as “dominant” as the Red Bull’s of the last few years, which are routinely described as “dominant”.

  3. timi (@timi) said on 16th April 2013, 13:07

    If Ferrari can improve their qualy pace and get FA or FM on the front row, I fear for the championship. It’s only early days but that Ferrari’s race pace really is incredible, I’m happy with them starting third or fourth row and giving us some great overtaking moves like their double move on LH.

  4. Dan (@esquilax) said on 16th April 2013, 14:12

    Since this has been an issue for Ferrari for a couple of years, and obviously they have already put a big effort into rectifying it, it makes you wonder what they can even do to the car to improve the one lap pace, especially without affecting the race pace.

    The other thing that baffles me is their starts: it’s hard to fathom how they can be consistently and considerably quicker than any other car off the line. I would love to hear from someone technical minded on those two points.

    I feel with their lightning starts and with most tracks having two DRS zones this year making overtaking far easier, and the fact that they are already much closer to the ultimate front running pace, it’s not going to hamper them anything like it did last year. But if they can make gains in this area I would put them and Alonso as firm favourites this year.

    • Dan (@esquilax) said on 16th April 2013, 14:16

      To clarify, I think even without much improvement in their qualifying pace any one else will still have a bloody hard time in beating them over the course of the season. It will take a formidable challenge…it’s shaping up to be a great fight this year

  5. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th April 2013, 14:32

    Alonso qualified third and won the race; what more do Ferrari want? Surely they have more-pressing issues to address, like how to recognise that the front wing has fallen off and needs to be reattached.

    • Nomore (@nomore) said on 16th April 2013, 16:02

      @prisoner-monkeys
      Not all the races will go in this way. Not all the tracks offers overtaking manoeuvres like Shanghai… in Bahrain it will be much more difficult.
      they were out-qualified by a Mercedes and a Lotus, if RB and Mclaren pick up the form it will be even more difficult…they need to work in quali and I hope they can do it.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 16th April 2013, 16:05

      like how to recognise that the front wing has fallen off and needs to be reattached.

      It is easy to talk about their decision after it was made, we saw in the last GP more serious accidents than the one of the Malaysian GP and the wings didn’t fall, Raikkonen finished second with a broken front wing carried for more than half the distance of the race plus Alonso in that lap was the second fastest man in track after Vettel and he was 2s quicker than Felipe
      Another thing Alonso said that the team made the simulations and they found that if they have changed the wing he would still finish in 10th or 9th position

      • Nomore (@nomore) said on 16th April 2013, 16:40

        tifoso1989
        Also they saved an engine…run the Malaysian gp for 1 or 2 points and destroy an engine..no thanks..more i think and more i agree that that decision was right

  6. pantherjag (@pantherjag) said on 16th April 2013, 16:25

    The slightly funny thing about this statement from Domenicalli is that as a team they have the best average qualifying this season of 3.6………. ahead of mercedes on 4

  7. Osama Shahid (@os-shahid1) said on 16th April 2013, 22:11

    Ferrari has been, in the years after 2009 not quite there as far as qualifying is concerned with 4 poles in 3 years since 2010 i think and its not because of the drivers with Alonso being quite a quick qualifier and Massa also now showing us what he can do. The situation is improving but they need to keep working as they’d do themselves a load of good by being in the hunt for victory every race weekend….

  8. The belief that qualifying pace is a reflection of car ability and not of driver ability is self-evidently false. Every team consists of two drivers in identical cars, and in every team one driver out-qualifies the other, sometimes by large margins.

    In 2012 Lewis Hamilton was faster in qualifying than his teammate Jenson Button by an average of a little more than three-tenths of a second. So no, it is not the case that grid position is attributable solely to the innate mechanical speed of the car.

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