|Circuit||Albert Park – Melbourne|
|Distance||307,574 km / 191,158 miles|
|3||Fernando Alonso||F138||299||Scuderia Ferrari||2.|
|4||Felipe Massa||F138||300||Scuderia Ferrari||4.|
Melbourne, 18 March – At last, a start that lived up to expectations. After some less than favourable debuts at the Australian Grand Prix, a second place for Fernando Alonso and a fourth for Felipe Massa means this championship has got off to a positive start, even if the season looks like being more closely contested than ever.It was a very intense weekend for everyone, including the engineers, mechanics and drivers, with the chaos caused by the rain, and the long time spent waiting in the pits, before the stewards made the right decision, the only one they could have taken, to postpone qualifying to Sunday morning prior to the race. A cool head was called for, firstly on Saturday to deal with the hostile weather and the very difficult track conditions in the first part of qualifying and then on Sunday, when once again, the team was faced with the task of making the right tyre choices for Q2 and Q3 on a track that was constantly changing. Then in the race came the need to manage the traffic, the tyre degradation, the strategy and the many pit stops, which all went to make the first Grand Prix of the year extremely absorbing.The final outcome for the Prancing Horse, after a chaotic weekend in which it was easy to make mistakes, was definitely positive. The race pace demonstrated by the F138 is encouraging and the car has confirmed it is competitive, with both drivers contributing to getting the team to head the Constructors’ classification, for what that’s worth after just one race. However, the qualifying performance is still something of an unknown, given that the weather did not allow for an accurate assessment and the gap between the top teams is yet to be deciphered precisely. The team has its feet firmly on the ground, aware that it’s going to take plenty more effort to be the most competitive.
Once again this year it seems that race strategy and tyre performance will be decisive factors. On a tricky circuit like the one in Melbourne, where some traffic related issues affected Fernando’s and Felipe’s race, the decision to bring forward the pit stop and the choice of going for three stops was the right decision, especially when it came to getting ahead of the cars that started outside the top ten and were therefore running the harder tyre and had got ahead of the Ferraris. When it came to the pit stops, the Prancing Horse mechanics and drivers carried on with the same great performance level they had shown in 2012, with an average pit stop time of under 2.5 seconds for the six stops in total.
Fernando and Felipe did not have an easy time of it at the start: running in every conceivable type of track condition, they always kept a clear head. Both men ran attacking races at the most opportune moments, especially when tyre management could make the difference. Statistically, the Albert Park track has never been good to the Brazilian driver, but Felipe showed he has maintained the form he demonstrated in the second part of last season. For the umpteenth time Fernando produced a majestic performance, thus continuing an incredible run of good results at this circuit where he has always finished in the points, except for his very first time when driving a Minardi.
The next round is the Malaysian Grand Prix, held on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and, after working into the early hours last night, to pack away all the equipment, a large number of the team are already on their way there. Other personnel will leave tonight and tomorrow morning, while back home in Maranello everyone continues to work flat out on the development of the F138.
Thirty points in the bag for Scuderia Ferrari after the Australian Grand Prix, thanks to a second place for Fernando Alonso and a fourth for Felipe Massa. Both drivers made three stops, starting on the Supersoft tyres before using the Medium for the rest of the race.
Stefano Domenicali: “First of all, I wish to congratulate the winner. After winter testing, we had said we were aiming for a podium in Australia and I am pleased we have reached this first objective. This is only the first of nineteen races and we are happy to see Scuderia Ferrari at the top of the Constructors’ classification: it is an encouraging start on which we must continue to build our Championship and today’s result should serve as a motivational push for all of us, both here at the track and back home in Maranello. Reliability, pit stops and strategy are as ever the key factors, but this weekend has thrown up other interesting topics on which to reflect, relative to our outright performance level compared to the competition”.
Fernando Alonso: “We can claim to have started this season on the right foot, immediately in the fight with the best. Along with the results from winter testing, it is a very encouraging sign that we managed to get the most out of a weekend that was full of unknown factors, both in qualifying and the race. I think the three stop strategy was the right one: with the degradation we had, it would have been impossible to manage on one less and bringing forward the second one by a few laps meant I was able to pass Vettel and Sutil. Finishing ahead of the Red Bull tastes like a win, even if we know that despite today’s race result, they are still the quickest. Now we can expect another weekend with very changeable weather and one that also puts a lot of stress on the cars from a mechanical point of view and on the drivers, from a physical one. But we can tackle it calmly on the back of this good result”.
Felipe Massa: “This is definitely a very positive start to the season, especially because this is a track where I have always suffered. We have shown that our car is competitive, with a good race pace and that is down to all the hard work done during winter testing. I had an attacking start to my race, in which I was immediately fighting for the top places. Maybe if we had brought forward the second stop, as Fernando did, the podium would have been within my grasp, but I am still very happy with my result. Definitely, we are at a good level, but now we must carefully analyse every smallest detail to try and improve our car”.
Pat Fry: “In the morning, qualifying was very tough as it was vital to choose the right tyre at the most opportune moment and we managed it without too much hesitation. It was not easy understanding what was the real gap to the front runners, as in some conditions it is not always clear. This afternoon, we had a good race pace and both drivers performed well without making any mistakes. But we are aware that we still have a lot of work to do if we want to continue to improve. Maybe we could have risked a two stop strategy, but given the unknowns linked to tyre degradation, we preferred not to do that. In the next races, it will be vital to understand the tyre behaviour, in order to choose the best strategies”.
Weather: air 17/18°C, track 24/26 °C.
Cloudy. Chassis: Alonso 299, Massa 300.
Albert Park, 17 March – Ferrari leads the Constructors’ World Championship after the opening round. That statement alone is enough to generate a sigh of relief from Prancing Horse fans around the world. After testing, the stated first objective was for Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa to be given a much more competitive car than last year and this evening, the F138, although not the quickest, delivered on that promise. Kimi Raikkonen won the race, running an impressive two stop strategy in the Lotus, with Fernando joining him on the podium in second place, in front of Sebastian Vettel, who finished third for Red Bull, having started from pole. The reason the Scuderia heads the Constructors’ table is that Felipe Massa rounded off the weekend with a strong drive to fourth place.
After a dry and sunny spell in the middle of the day, the clouds were again menacing Albert Park as the cars set off on their formation lap. The two F138s were on the Supersoft Pirelli, like all the top ten qualifiers, so early pit stops were predicted. Vettel got away cleanly from pole in the Red Bull, but his team-mate Webber dropped to seventh from second on the grid. Felipe made a lightening start to take second with Fernando right behind him in third as they crossed the line for the first time. Behind them came Hamilton, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Webber, Di Resta, Button with Sutil completing the top ten.
Button pitted on lap 4, followed one lap later by Webber, Grosjean and Gutierrez. At the front, Felipe trailed Vettel by 0.7, with Fernando a further 0.6 behind, while in fourth, Raikkonen in the Lotus was over two seconds behind the Spaniard. The race leader came in on lap 7, dropping to ninth, which meant the Ferrari duo were now heading the field. Felipe changed to the Medium on lap 8, rejoining seventh and Di Resta also came in at this time in the Force India. In first place, Fernando’s advantage over Raikkonen was under half a second, as the two of them dived into pit lane together on lap 9, leaving in the same order. This left the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg out in front, followed by Sutil, Perez, Vettel, Massa sixth, Alonso seventh and Raikkonen eighth. On lap 12, both Ferraris dispensed with Perez in the McLaren.
Hamilton pitted on lap 13, with Rosberg coming in next time round, so that Sutil, the only front runner not to have pitted yet in the Force India was a temporary leader ahead of Vettel, who was 0.7 ahead of Felipe with Fernando an identical gap behind. Perez pitted the McLaren on lap 16, dropping to 13th. At the front the gaps were getting smaller, with Felipe now 0.5 behind Vettel and Fernando 0.6 down on his team-mate. On lap 20, it was Fernando who made his second stop, fitting another set of Mediums, which dropped him to seventh. Next time round, Sutil pitted and so do did Vettel for his second stop, also for Mediums, which meant Felipe now led by 1.4 from Raikkonen and Hamilton was a further 11 seconds behind. Lap 23 and Felipe came in for fresh rubber, which dropped him to seventh behind Sutil.
Lap 27 and third placed Rosberg retired the Mercedes at the side of the track, so that Fernando was now third, chasing the leader Raikkonen and then Hamilton, who both had only made one stop so far. Behind the Spanish Ferrari man, Vettel was 1.2 behind, followed by Sutil, who had Felipe just 0.2 off his tail. At half distance – lap 29 – as Felipe was pressuring Sutil – a few drops of rain began to fall at a couple of corners towards the end of the track, but not enough to require rain tyres. Fernando had now closed right up to second placed Hamilton, ducking and diving either side of the Mercedes, eventually getting past on lap 31, after which the Englishman immediately pitted. On lap 32, Fernando was slowed slightly by a Caterham which allowed Vettel to close up. Raikkonen finally made his second stop on lap 34, so that Fernando was leading, from Vettel, Sutil and Felipe, with the Finnish Lotus driver resuming behind the Brazilian. However, with Raikkonen’s second stop coming much later than that of his rivals, it was now clear he was going to the flag without a third stop.
Lap 36 saw Felipe make his third and final stop, again fitting the Medium Pirellis with Vettel doing the same next time round, followed in by Button and Grosjean from eighth and ninth. With 20 of the 58 laps remaining, Fernando led Sutil by 10.5 as the Spaniard dived into the pits for his third and final stop, rejoining third. On fresh rubber, the Ferrari man at first began to close dramatically on Raikkonen, but once the initial boost from the tyres was over, the gap between them stabilised.
Meanwhile, Vettel swept past Hamilton to take third and Felipe was the next to dispense with the Mercedes man. Sutil had still not made his final stop, but the Force India needed new rubber and when the German came in from second on lap 46, this produced the finishing order that, at least for the leaders, would remain unchanged to the flag at the end of 58 laps.
This is a very encouraging start to the 19 race season for Scuderia Ferrari and the race did not produce the expected total dominance from Red Bull. However, there is no time to rest on one’s laurels with the hot and humid Sepang circuit hosting the Malaysian Grand Prix in just one week’s time. It will be another tough challenge, but the result here in Melbourne is a good morale booster and incentive for everyone at the track and back in Maranello, to keep pushing hard on the development of the F138.
Melbourne, 17 March – Fernando Alonso finished the Australian Grand Prix, the first and unpredictable round of the world championship, in second place, Starting from fifth on the grid at the Albert Park circuit, the Spaniard finished behind the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, while in the other Ferrari, Felipe Massa came home fourth. Keeping the Brazilian off the podium was Sebastian Vettel, third for Red Bull.
The next act of the Formula 1 World Championship is just a week away, in Malaysia, taking place at the Sepang circuit.
Melbourne, 17 March – Felipe Massa’s race in Albert Park will be run in memory of Wilson Fittipaldi. For the opening round of the season, Felipe has chosen to run with a sticker featuring the name of the “Barone,” who raced in Brazil in the Seventies and also worked as a radio journalist. The father of former racers Emerson and Wilsinho, passed away last Monday at the age of 92. Massa wanted to express his sympathy to the Fittipaldi family, with whom he has always shared a sincere and deep friendship.
Albert Park, 17 March – Not since the 2010 Japanese GP have we seen a qualifying session take place on Sunday, although on that occasion, as indeed also happened in Suzuka in 2004, the entire grid deciding procedure took place on race day. This time, Q1 was run yesterday, before the Race Director took the wise decision to postpone the last two parts until this morning at 11h00. In fact, conditions were still quite tricky for Q2 and Q3, with proceedings starting on a wet track, with a dry line emerging in time for slick tyres to be used right at the end. Both Ferrari men made it through to the final top ten shoot-out, when Felipe Massa recorded the fourth fastest time, one place ahead of Fernando Alonso.
F1 experts had been reluctant to make any predictions regarding the pit lane pecking order, based on winter testing. But today’s qualifying did reinforce some of the signs seen over the 12 days in Spain: Red Bull again looks to be very quick and Sebastian Vettel on pole and team-mate Mark Webber have locked down the front row. Mercedes also showed good pace in testing and Lewis Hamilton is on the inside of Felipe on row 2, while Fernando shares the third row with the Englishman’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg. For the Prancing Horse the important factor is that it is definitely nearer the pace of the quickest than was the case twelve months ago. In a matter of hours the opening round of the season will get underway. Albert Park has often been the scene of great excitement and drama, even without the threat of rain that still lingers over the Australian track for the early evening start at 17h00. Getting through the opening laps unscathed will be the first priority for Felipe and Fernando and after that, it will be down to skill and strategy as usual.
Fourth and fifth places on the grid for Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso: that was the outcome at the end of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. On an unusual day for Formula 1 as the starting grid line-up had to be postponed, this result is a good basis on which Scuderia Ferrari can build for the race that starts in a few hours. Both Ferrari men ran the same tyre strategy: one set of extremes and one of intermediates in Q1, two sets of intermediates in Q2, one set of intermediates and one of Supersoft in Q3.
Fernando Alonso: “I am very pleased with this result, because if our aim for the year is to reduce the gap to our competitors and start from better positions than we have done in the past two seasons, we can claim to have managed it. After winter testing, it was difficult to draw any conclusions and that was also the case today, with a delayed qualifying and very changeable weather conditions. Once again, Red Bull demonstrated its superiority, but while it’s true that we fought with them right down to the last race, for the past two seasons, I am sure that once again this year we will be there to mix it with them, if we do everything perfectly without making mistakes. I think that starting from fifth, a podium finish is a realistic option”.
Felipe Massa: “Given the difficult conditions we encountered yesterday in the first part of qualifying and then again this morning, I’m reasonably pleased with this fourth place. In such changeable conditions, the slightest inconvenient could see you not make it through the various stages of qualifying. Now we can expect a long and difficult race where the strategy will play – like always – a key factor. Anyway, starting from a good position is a positive and encouraging sign for the start of this championship”.
Weather: air 15 °C, track 16 °C. Light rain.
Chassis: Alonso 299, Massa 300
Melbourne, 16 March – As predicted the rain arrived in time to affect the third and final free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix, with a short but heavy downpour hitting the track when just a few laps had been completed. All the drivers headed back to the pits, before heading out again on rain tyres. Romain Grosjean was fastest in the Lotus, setting a dry time of 1.26.929, followed by the F138s of Fernando Alonso (1.27.000) and Felipe Massa (1.27.241). Both Ferrari men only did a handful of laps on the Albert Park semi-permanent circuit. Next up comes the all-important qualifying session to decide the grid order for tomorrow’s race which starts at 17h00.
The 2013 Formula 1 World Championship got off to a busy first day of testing for Scuderia Ferrari and the ten other teams at Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa completed a total of 100 laps, 51 for the Spaniard and 49 for the Brazilian. Over the three hours of track action for the 22 drivers, the Ferrari men concentrated mainly on evaluating the Pirelli Medium and Supersoft tyres, as well as trying different set-ups aimed at getting the right balance on the F138.
Fernando Alonso: “Overall, this was a very productive Friday, as we did a lot of laps and got through an important initial analysis of the behaviour of the two types of Pirelli tyres available for this race. Our efforts were helped by particularly favourable weather with sunshine and summery temperatures. However, the weather is expected to change completely from tomorrow, with wind, rain and a significant drop in temperature, which could influence Sunday’s race. I’m not expecting any major surprises here, we already knew we were not the quickest and that was confirmed today. The car responds well, but we know there is still much to do if we want to fight with the very best”.
Felipe Massa: “All aspects of both sessions were positive, even if we are aware that much work still awaits us both this weekend and for the whole season ahead of us. In the second session, when I went out on the Supersofts, something did not work properly on the KERS and that cost me time, denying me the chance of doing a better lap. I am not surprised by the performance of our opponents and I expected Red Bull to be competitive right from the start”.
Pat Fry: “This morning we evaluated various aerodynamic configurations and worked on the set-up, while in the afternoon, we worked mainly on comparing the two compounds, which will be a key factor over the rest of the weekend. The degradation appeared to be particularly marked and in fact, it fell in line with our expectations and those of Pirelli. We got through today’s planned programme with both drivers, despite suffering a KERS failure on Felipe’s car during his run on the Supersofts, in the second free practice session. Now we need to analyse the data we have gathered very carefully, especially from the longer runs. We have much to do and a long evening ahead of us to be as well prepared as possible for tomorrow’s qualifying”.
|First session||Second session|
First session: air 21°C, track 32/34 °C. Sunny
Second session: air 21/22 °C, track 37/31 °C. Sunny.
Melbourne, 15 March – Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso ended the first free practice session of the Australian Grand Prix and indeed of the season, in second and third places respectively in their Ferraris. As usual, during the first 90 minutes of track action, there was very little grip to be found on the semi-permanent Albert Park circuit. Sebastian Vettel was quickest for Red Bull in 1.27.211, with Massa doing 1.27.289 in his F138, while Alonso posted a 1.27.547. After concentrating on an evaluation of the new Medium Pirelli compound and testing different aero set-ups, the Scuderia ended the session with some pit stop practice.