Although Ferrari endured a far better start to their season in Melbourne last week, than they did at the same time last year, team boss Stefano Domemicali is taking nothing for granted and declared that there is no room for complacency for the team and drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
Speaking ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, “The first Grand Prix weekend of the season in Australia was a positive one for us as we had previously stated that our objective was to finish on the podium and that target was achieved. However, there is no room for complacency as nothing in terms of a pit lane hierarchy is set in stone. We have witnessed a weekend that was very unusual, with qualifying on Saturday and Sunday delivering a snapshot of the order that proved to be completely different come Sunday evening after the race.”
“It was important to see both our drivers deliver strong performances, as it provides a great basis on which we can build a competitive season and I’m pleased for both of them. Seeing Ferrari heading the Constructors’ Championship is a great reward for the people who have been working so hard, both here at the track and back home in Maranello. But it’s only the first step in a very long season and now is the time to analyse and evaluate all the data from Melbourne in order to be immediately ready for this coming weekend in Malaysia.”
Monsoon-like tropical storms are likely to play a role in proceedings at Sepang, but conditions will be unlike the cold and wet which characterised the Melbourne weekend. Although in Kuala Lumpur rain is a given just about every afternoon, it will be hot and humid at the same time which when coupled to the notoriously abrasive Sepang surface will impact tyres and their durability.
“Sepang is a very different track and our plan is to make the most of the package that we have,” maintained the reds’ team principal. “We need to wait and see how our car will behave in what is a totally different environment: the track will make different demands on the cars to the ones we experienced in Australia, with a change in track surface and the unique weather conditions, very hot and humid, will also impact on everyone’s performance this weekend. We know what is required here and we will need the usual compromise in terms of downforce levels to deal with both the tighter section and the two long fast straights.”
Last year Alonso won the race starting eighth on the grid. Rain affected the entire race – including a 50 minutes stoppage after eight laps – and thereafter we witnessed an epic duel between Sergio Perez (in a Sauber at the time) and Alonso. In the end the Spaniard prevailed to score his thrid triumph at Sepang. He also won in 2005 as a Renault driver and 2007 with McLaren.
The race on Sunday will be Alonso’s 200th Grand Prix start.