F1: Ferrari look to build on positive start
Team top of constructors standing after drivers come 2nd, 4th18 March, 16:44
(ANSA) - Rome, March 18 - Ferrari are looking to build on their positive start to the Formula One championship, after Fernando Alonso came second at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and Felipe Massa was fourth.
Alonso was outpaced by Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus but he finished one place ahead of Red Bell's Sebastian Vettel, who is aiming for a fourth consecutive Formula One world title this year.
The result achieved by the Spanish two-time world champion and his Brazilian teammate means Ferrari are top of the constructors' championship after the first race with 30 points.
It is especially encouraging for the Italian team as their drives for the title both last year and the year before were hampered by slow starts caused by their car not being up to the pace. "We can claim to have started this season on the right foot, immediately in the fight with the best," said Alonso. "Along with the results from winter testing, it is a very encouraging sign that we managed to get the most out of a weekend that was full of unknown factors, both in qualifying and the race. "Finishing ahead of the Red Bull tastes like a win, even if we know that, despite the result, they are still the quickest". Ferrari have little time to savour the good showing as the Formula One circus now moves to Kuala Lumpur for next weekend's Mayalysian Grand Prix.
"Now we can expect another weekend with very changeable weather and one that also puts a lot of stress on the cars from a mechanical point of view and on the drivers, from a physical one," said Alonso. "But we can tackle it calmly on the back of this good result".
Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was satisfied too, although he stressed that Australia represented nothing more than a good starting point.
"After winter testing, we had said we were aiming for a podium in Australia and I am pleased we have hit this first target," Domenicali said.
"This is only the first of nineteen races and we are happy to see Ferrari at the top of the constructors' standings.
"It is an encouraging start on which we must continue to build our championship and this result should serve as motivation for all of us, both here at the track and back home (at the base) in Maranello. "Reliability, pit stops and strategy are, as ever, the key factors, but this weekend has thrown up other interesting topics on which to reflect, relative to our outright performance level compared to the competition".
Pat Fry, Ferrari's technical director, said gaining better understanding of the new Pirelli tyres was now a priority.
Ferrari had a three-stop strategy in Melbourne, like most of the field, but Raikkonen prevailed with just two trips to the pits.
"We are aware that we still have a lot of work to do if we want to continue to improve," said Fry. "Maybe we could have risked a two-stop strategy, but given the unknowns linked to tyre ware, we preferred not to do that. "In the next races, it will be vital to understand the tyre behaviour, in order to choose the best strategies".