Ferrari’s 2012 campaign got off to a dismal start in Melbourne as Fernando Alonso spun out of qualifying in Q2 and Felipe Massa slumped to 16th, his worst grid slot since Singapore 2010 when he started from the back of the field after technical problems.
Alonso put a wheel on the grass on the run down to turn one and was pitched into the gravel trap. With his engine still running, the Spaniard said he had hoped for a push but eventually he had to concede defeat and will start tomorrow’s race from 12th place.
“It went like this: I got a bit on the grass under braking, the car took off on its own and I found myself in the gravel,” he said. “I had managed to keep the engine running and was hoping the marshals would be able to push me back on track. Tomorrow we will be racing defensively and will try and do what we can, hopefully making the most of having four sets of new tyres.
“It’s true our target at the start of the year was to fight for the win right from the beginning, and we have not managed that, but this will be a long season and all we can do is work on improving performance…there’s no point getting angry as it does not serve any purpose.”
It was, if anything, a worse day for Felipe Massa, who struggled for grip all through his two sessions and finished a second off his team-mate’s pace. “I am very disappointed; this is not the start to the season I was expecting or hoping for,” he said. “It was difficult right from the start of FP3 – the balance of the car was never what I wanted and I never managed to get a clean lap. I was always lacking grip, both on the Mediums and the Softs, and I suffered with oversteer on entry and understeer on exit. I don’t know why, but the car seemed to be worse than in winter testing, maybe down to the characteristics of this circuit.”
Anticipating a backlash from tifosi, team principal Stefano Domenicali said: “I understand that at the moment our fans are disappointed but I would urge them to be cautious before making any definitive judgement, as if everything was already over. We need to remain calm and concentrated. We have a lot of work to do and our engineers are well aware of that, as indeed they were before even leaving for Melbourne.”