It is well documented that Ferrari has suffered its worst start to the season since the 1980s. If they fail to score a point tomorrow it will be their worst start ever.
While both Renault and McLaren have been able to bring a version of the double diffuser to their car already, Ferrari is still waiting for its edition to come out in Spain.
Against the backdrop of a significant step forward for McLaren, all eyes were on Ferrari in qualifying today to see whether they could get both cars into the top ten shoot out. As it turned out Mark Webber being blocked early on made one top ten spot available, but Ferrari were in anyway with a remarkable turn of speed in Q2, on Raikkonen’s car in particular. Massa got through in 9th place from Q2.
But Raikkonen had used a new set of tyres in the first run of Q2 and didn’t want to go out again, but the team was anxious not to miss out as the track improved and sent him out again, so he did not have a new set available for his final and most important qualifying lap. Massa used a scrubbed set for his first run in Q2 so he had a new set left for his final lap. He was also lighter than Kimi, by 10kg. Massa is 8th on the grid, Kimi is 10th
Good pace up until the final run, then?
“Today I was quite happy with the way the car worked. It wasn’t ideal in the final part, but I didn’t have any new tyres left so there wasn’t much I could have done any more.
You were fourth fastest in the low fuel Q2 session
“The car was surprisingly good in the first and second qualifying sessions and I think if we’d had some new tyres in the last part we could have done quite a good job. But with old tyres and high fuel it’s not going to be easy. I didn’t want to go out a second time but the team wanted me to go out again so we wasted a set of tyres. So it was not what I was hoping for.”
Did the circuit change much over the hour?
“I didn’t feel that the circuit improved a lot, sometimes when you go with one new set of tyres after another you can get find a little but of time in different places. In fact I would say that towards the end the circuit got a little more slippery near the end.
How much did KERS help here in Bahrain, it’s one of the two best tracks for it (along with Monza)?
“The car’s performance has improved with KERS. lap time in the second session was surprisingly close to the front runners. Of course you never know what they are doing [with fuel] but it was anyway much closer to previous races. So I think from yesterday to today it definitely helped. We would not have used it if it didn’t.”
What are your prospects for the race?
“In the race it’s a completely different story, it’s going to be quite hot, it’s hard for the tyres. We will try to finish in the points, so we’ll see how we can do against the others, the car is not as strong as the ones in front of us. ”
What is the heat like to deal with?
“It doesn’t change much. It’s hotter sitting here than it is driving, it’s a very dry heat and you have the wind to cool you down a bit.”
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is coming to Bahrain tomorrow to be with the team and offer encouragement. However there is also a politcal purpose to his visit. He has a planned meeting with the vice president of Toyota to discuss the current situation in F1, the budget cap and the best way forward for the FOTA teams.