Posts Tagged ‘Felipe Massa’

Vettel heads the pack again

Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole position of the season after smashing the lap record at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal.

The world champion – who leads this year’s standings by 61 points – edged out Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

His team-mate Mark Webber ended up fourth with the McLaren pair of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button struggling in fifth and seventh respectively.

But it was serene progress for Vettel at the front as Red Bull secured their eighth consecutive pole position – a run stretching back toBrazillast year.

His pole lap of 1.13.014 was over two-seconds quicker than Lewis Hamilton’s pole-time set twelve months ago.

His performance was all the more remarkable considering his big crash yesterday at the exit of the last corner – dubbed the Wall of Champions

Vettel said: “It is a tricky track with the chicanes and the kerbs to understand. All in all I’m very happy, it’s obviously a big step. But the big thing is tomorrow, conditions are very likely to change but how much we don’t know.”

But Red Bull did not have everything their own way.

Ferrari produced their strongest qualifying performance of the year so far with both drivers within a quarter of a second of Vettel.

Alonso added: “I feel good, I feel confident. We concentrate on qualifying on Saturday and this is the best result of the year for the team, second and third.

“Two tenths or one and a half tenths behind Red Bull is encouraging. I am looking forward to the race.

“Maybe it is the least important qualifying of the year with the weather forecast (for rain) and we are second and third. But still it is good to be as high as possible and we have a chance to win the race.”

McLaren will be praying for rain as they boldly decided to opt for a wet-weather aerodynamic package.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh told the BBC that the forecasts suggested a 60% chance of rain on Sunday.

Webber ended a difficult day with fourth on the grid but said he was happy.

The Australian had to miss the final practice session on Saturday morning because of a KERS failure and the team were unable to fix it before qualifying.

It’s a bit of a shame for Mark,” Vettel said. “He was not able to run this morning, so that makes it hard to find a rhythm, but I’m sure both of us will be strong tomorrow.”

Mercedes and Renault emphasised their competitiveness by completing the top-ten and both will look to score heavily tomorrow.

Scotland’s Paul di Resta and fellow rookie Pastor Maldonado both narrowly missed out on making Q3 and will start an impressive 11th and 12th after out-qualifying their more illustrious team-mates.

“If I had taken an extra set of tyres, I might have been able to beat (Renault’s) Nick Heidfeld, even though there wasn’t a lot left out there,” said di Resta.

“But it’s probably better to be starting on the clean side of the grid with an extra set of tyres for the race.

“Since we started at the weekend, the car’s been working well. The track is all about commitment. It seemed to appeal to me quickly and it’s looking quite promising for the race,” he said.

At the back of the grid it was a bad day for under pressure Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari.

The Spaniard who’s place with the team has been the source of increased speculation failed to get out of Q1 and will line up 18th.

Hispania, with some major upgrades, won the back-of-the-grid battle with Virgin, with Vitantonio Liuzzi taking 21st place ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock.

The German’s team-mate Jerome D’Ambrosio failed to set a time within 107% of the fastest time in the first session and did not qualify for the race.

He will only be allowed to race if the stewards grant him an exemption.

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Chris Dyer hopes for a return to form in Malaysia

Ferrari are hoping updates to their 2011 car will make them more competitive in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend.

 

The team struggled to replicate their promising pre-season pace in Australia two weeks as Fernando Alonso qualified fifth and Felipe Massa eighth.

In the race the team fared better with Alonso finishing fourth and Massa seventh, following the exclusion of the Sauber team. The Brazilian set the fastest lap and Alonso the second fastest.

“After the opening round in Australia, we have spent a lot of time analysing all the data acquired in Melbourne and one clear fact is that our race pace there was definitely better than the one we had in qualifying,” deputy technical director Chris Dyer told Ferrari’s official website.

Stefano Domenicali and several engineers flew back to Europe during the two-week break in the wake of their poor show in Australia.

“After analysing qualifying and race data from Melbourne, there are already things we plan to change and improve for Malaysia,” said Pat Fry, assistant technical director.

“We have also added a further three or four test items and probably there will be even more new parts to test arriving in the few days between the Malaysia and China races. It’s a case of constant development throughout the season,” he said.

 Ferrari have not won at Sepang since Kimi Raikkonen took the chequered flag back in 2008.

 
 

Prancing Horse has lost its way

Stefano Domenicali and several other top Ferrari engineers have made an unscheduled flight back to Europe as they attempt to understand their surprising lack of pace in Australia.

Ferrari, considered to be a close second behind Red Bull in pre-season testing, could only manage fourth with Fernando Alonso and ninth with Felipe Massa. The Brazilian was later classified seventh after Sauber were disqualified.

A statement on the Ferrari website said: “Eighteen points is without a doubt not the sort of haul that lives up to our expectations. No one at Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro can hide from the reality that this was not the start to the championship we wanted or hoped for.

Clearly, there is plenty for the men from Maranello to get their teeth into and there is an absolute determination to react immediately so as to turn up in much better shape in Malaysia.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is in two weeks’ time.