- Malaysian Grand Prix
Ferrari targets qualifying boost at Sepang
Ferrari has set out a rigorous Friday practice schedule for the Malaysian Grand Prix in order to understand the reasons behind its disappointing qualifying performance at the opening round in Australia.
Ferrari was expected to be Red Bull's closest rivals after pre-season testing, but when it came to the first qualifying session Fernando Alonso was 1.4 seconds off Sebastian Vettel and fifth fastest overall. The poor performance cost the Ferrari driver dear as he lost ground at the start and spent the rest of the race making up ground.
Deputy technical director Pat Fry said low track temperatures were the main issue: "It meant that many people, ourselves included, were struggling a bit with the tyres especially in qualifying, as we tried to get the most out of them, particularly the hard tyre on a single lap."
He added that the team had some solutions which it will test during free practice in Malaysia.
"After analysing qualifying and race data from Melbourne, there are already things we plan to change and improve for Malaysia," Fry confirmed. "These will be added in to an already busy pre-planned test programme with further aerodynamic updates that were always planned for this race. But 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."
Fry acknowledged that the hotter conditions this weekend will require a different approach, both over one lap and in terms of race strategy.
"I think the situation in Malaysia will be very interesting, as we can expect a 35 degree ambient temperature and a 50 degree track temperature, much higher figures than in Australia. Pirelli has told us that, as the circuit gets hotter, the performance difference between the two types of dry tyre will get smaller, but we have no experience yet of running in these temperatures. Finding out more about how the tyres work in these conditions on short and long runs will be a key element of Friday's track programme in Sepang."