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Ferrari working hard on qualifying pace
Ferrari technical director Pat Fry says the team is working hard on its qualifying pace at this early stage of the season.
One of Ferrari's main weaknesses in 2012 was its speed over one lap, with the car much stronger in race trim on a Sunday. Although Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso qualified second and third respectively in Malaysia, Fry admits the qualifying pace is an area the team has highlighted it needs to improve having worked to retain its long run strength.
"We've shown reasonable race pace and on all the tyre types we have used so far we have performed well, however we still have a way to go to be quickest in qualifying and we are working very hard on that at the moment," Fry said. "We've been concentrating on the longer runs, even if they are not as long as in the past, because this year we expect more pit stops during a race. However, we have not ignored our qualifying pace. I am sure there is more to come on this front, as we learn more about our car and start getting the best out of it.
"The key will be to try and move our car development programme forward quicker than the other teams do. It's a tough cycle that will last all year and we need to at least match our 2012 development pace if we are to perform better in qualifying. So far, we have worked well, all the way through from design to manufacture, improving on how we did things last year in terms of actually getting new bits onto the car. Also, our aero correlation is better."
Looking ahead to the Chinese Grand Prix, Fry was cautious on how well the F138 will be suited to the circuit.
"Shanghai is a challenging mix of different corner types and a 1.2 kilometre straight. Is it going to suit our car better than some others? It is too early to say, as there are too many unknowns. For example, it will be the first weekend this year that we will use the Pirelli Soft compound, along with the Medium.
"At the end of this Grand Prix, we will have a clearer picture of how all the tyres compare to one another. So to some degree, Shanghai will be another learning exercise for everyone, although we can say that our pace, relative to the other teams, has been okay on all the tyres we have tried so far."