Team and drivers report from the Malaysian Grand Prix, Round 2 of the 2013 Formula 1 world championship, at Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur.
Stefano Domenicali: “Clearly today’s result leaves a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth given the start positions we had secured in qualifying. As soon as Fernando collided with Vettel it was clear that his race would involve fighting his way up the order. At that time, we felt the front wing could hold out and on a track that was progressively drying out, we risked leaving him out. With hindsight, it did not work out, trying to avoid doing two stops in the space of just four laps. As for Felipe, the gap that grew during the opening laps compromised his chances to fight with the leading group of four towards the end. Given the competitive performance level of our rivals, now the important thing is to turn the page: we must put this Sunday behind us and calmly analyse the positive and negative aspects, as we immediately turn our attention to the next race in China.”
Fernando Alonso: “Today, unfortunately, we were very unlucky. After making a good start, I touched with Vettel at the second corner: it was a surprise to find him there, almost stopped and I don’t know what speed he was doing. Despite the fact the car was damaged, it didn’t seem to be too bad and, together with the team, we decided to keep going, because if we’d stopped immediately and then again on lap 3 or 4 to fit dry tyres, we would have dropped too far back and definitely lost the chance to finish up the front. It’s easy to criticise this decision, but at the time it seemed like the right one. It was certainly a shame, because here we could have fought with the Red Bulls, but circumstances didn’t help and apart from the wisdom of the decisions we took, bad luck really played its part, when you think how many off-track excursions there were in Australia without any consequence and even here when the cars first went out on track. Now we are already focusing on the coming races in China and Bahrain, where we hope to do better than last year, so that we arrive in Europe with as many points as possible”.
Felipe Massa: “Today’s race was really complicated, because starting with a new set of intermediates on a track that was very damp at some points and completely dry at others, prevented me from having a good pace and I lost ground to many other drivers on the first lap. Maybe bringing forward the first stop to fit dry tyres was a slightly risky choice, because the track was still damp and this cost me time. Then on the dry track, the car improved, the tyre degradation wasn’t excessive and I managed to settle into a good pace, but at that point, any hope of finishing on the podium had vanished. I can’t say I’m satisfied with this result, but given all the difficulties I had at the start of the race, I am happy to bring home a good points haul”.
Pat Fry: “For both drivers, the initial part of the race affected the final outcome, which is a real shame because the start was very promising. The contact between Alonso and Vettel at the second corner was an unfortunate episode: we knew the front wing was damaged but the car still seemed to be competitive and we decided to run the risk of staying out. We definitely could have played safe and called him in, but that way we would have ended up behind everyone on rain tyres and would have lost even more ground with the next stop to fit dry tyres. With hindsight, we can say the risk wasn’t worthwhile. In the wet, Felipe struggled a bit to find the right balance and that compromised his chances of fighting for a podium position. Once it was dry, his lap times improved: he definitely drove a good race which enabled him to pick up useful points”.