Mar.18 (PVM) On Saturday night in Melbourne it was doom and gloom in the Ferrari camp at Albert Park, on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, as the team digested one of their worst qualifying performances in recent memory – but 24 hours later the gloom had lifted and the consensus was that Fernando Alonso had done some serious damage limitation by taking fifth place in the race.
Alonso reflected after an incident packed race, where he was in the thick of the action throughout the afternoon, “We knew it would be a very complicated race and I am happy I managed to bring home a useful number of points.”
“I got a great start and managed a few passing moves in the early stages and later, after the Safety Car, there was a tough fight with [Pastor] Maldonado: when I saw he’d gone off the track I breathed a sigh, because he had been really close to me for quite a few laps up until then. I was slower than him and all I could do was defend my position, using the KERS at a few specific points,” said the Spaniard.
The two times world champion saw the bright side of a tough weekend for the squad from Maranello, “As for the positive points to come out of today, they would be the start, the pit stops and the strategy. Today the car was better than yesterday and we were closer to the leaders.”
But he was quick to warn, “We still have a lot of work to do to reach those who are ahead of us in terms of performance; not just McLaren and Red Bull, but also Mercedes and Lotus. We are probably a second off pole and there are seven or eight teams who are all very close to one another. In one sense, that’s good news because if we can improve by a few tenths, then we can make up a few places.”
So now it is on to round two with basically the same under-performing car, Alonso said, “Next week in Malaysia will be a trial by fire, because Sepang is a very demanding circuit, for the cars and the tyres.”
The Ferrari driver spared a word for Maldonado who stalked the Ferrari until the last lap when he slammed the wall after clipping the artificial grass, “I am sorry for him, because it’s a real shame to finish a race like that.”