• Australian Grand Prix

Melbourne wasn't a disaster - Alonso

ESPNF1 Staff
March 29, 2011 « Horner unmoved by McLaren's rehtoric | »
Fernando Alonso endured a frustrating weekend, finishing fourth over half a minute behind race winner Sebastian Vettel © Sutton Images
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Fernando Alonso has said that the Australian Grand Prix was not a disaster for Ferrari, despite the team being further off the pace than expected.

Ferrari had looked like the most likely challenger to Red Bull at the front of the grid throughout pre-season testing, but they struggled to live up to that billing in Melbourne, with McLaren closest to Sebastian Vettel's pace and Vitaly Petrov's finishing third in his Renault. Although Alonso could only manage fourth and Felipe Massa seventh, the double world champion tried to take a calm perspective of the weekend.

"It wasn't the start that we all wanted but nor is it anything to get worried about," he said. "I already said it at the track: 12 points is not far below the world champion's average last year and two title contenders [Jenson Button and Mark Webber] finished behind me. So overall the Australian Grand Prix can't be defined as disastrous."

Alonso acknowledged that the car's lack of pace in qualifying was unexpected, but said the team managed to extract a bit more performance from the 150th Italia in time the race. "Certainly, in qualifying we were very far from Vettel's Red Bull and far from Hamilton's McLaren but in the race the situation improved - perhaps not compared to Sebastian but certainly against the others. The start was a pity: if I hadn't found myself down in 9th place at the beginning of the first lap I'd have been able to fight to the finish for the two lower steps of the podium."

Conditions were relatively cool throughout the weekend, with Ferrari struggling to get heat in to the front tyres. Alonso refused to use the weather as an excuse though, saying he felt there was a more fundamental problem that needs to be investigated.

"I'm not one of those who believes a degree of temperature here or there can determine major changes in the performance of the car on the track. So I don't agree that the fact that Sunday was hotter compared to Saturday necessarily played into our favour. On Friday, when temperatures were similar to those during qualifying, the car went very well. The next day, from the morning, it wasn't so good and we have to understand why that happened by carefully analysing the data."

Despite the lack of temperature causing problems for Ferrari, Alonso said that the performance of the Pirelli tyres were actually one of the positives that he could take away from the weekend.

"For me there weren't any big surprises this weekend, particularly because I didn't arrive in Melbourne with a clear idea of how the grid would line up. From the tests, especially this year, it was difficult to have a realistic picture of the situation. The only positive surprise was the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres which, at least at Albert Park, showed less degradation than what we saw at the test. We will see how things go in Malaysia at Sepang, on a track that is very different to the semi-street circuit of Albert Park."