Alonso salvages Ferrari pride

By on Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fernando Alonso battled to a damage-limiting fifth place in Melbourne as team-mate Felipe Massa was forced to retire from 13th after clashing with William’s Bruno Senna late in the race.

Alonso started well, seizing several positions in the opening laps after starting 12th. However, later in the race he came under severe pressure from Williams’ Pastor Maldonado and was only freed when the Venezuelan made a mistake and arrowed into the wall late in the race. Afterwards, the Ferrari driver admitted he had been under serious threat from the Williams driver.

“When I saw he’d gone off the track I breathed a sigh, because he had been really close to me for quite a few laps up until then,” said Alonso. “I was slower than him and all I could do was defend my position, using the KERS at a few specific points. I am sorry for him, because it’s a real shame to finish a race like that.”

Despite claiming 10 points for Ferrari, Alonso admitted that team is in trouble. “We are probably a second off pole and there are seven or eight teams who are all very close to one another. In one sense, that’s good news because if we can improve by a few tenths, then we can make up a few places. Next week in Malaysia will be a trial by fire, because Sepang is a very demanding circuit, for the cars and the tyres.”

It was an even tougher day for Massa, who said he struggled with tyre degradation all throughout the race. “This has been a really poor weekend for me,” he said. “Already yesterday I suffered because the car was badly balanced and today, it was probably even worse, because after a few laps I was struggling with the tyres.

“I had got a great start and had managed to make up a few places and I was hoping to finish in the points. We tried to bring forward the first stop, but also on the second set of Soft tyres we had the same problems: the car was sliding and the degradation was much greater than for the others. I would not say I was driving aggressively and I was actually trying not to be hard on the tyres, but there was nothing I could do.

“As for the contact with Senna, I think we can consider it a racing incident,” he said. “A Toro Rosso tried to pass me on the outside of Turn 3 and Bruno had better traction on the inside, so we went into Turn 4 side by side: that where we tangled and it ended as you saw it did.”

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