I’m back home in Monaco after the first race of the season where I failed to score any points and it’s fair to say, that given my previous track record in Istanbul, this was obviously a very disappointing result. I ended up eleventh, when I could have been challenging for fourth place and that was mainly down to poor pit stops. However, looking on the positive side, the aero updates we ran for the first time at this race definitely increased our performance level as can be seen from the fact that Fernando secured Ferrari’s first podium finish of the year.
Once again, qualifying was not that easy and then, as we have seen at every race this year, the car was much better in the race itself. I had an incident packed Sunday afternoon, but the first stint went very well for me and I was able to pass several cars, up to the point that I overtook Hamilton just before we pitted. This was where my race got complicated as my pit stop was not that great and we ended up side by side leaving pit lane, with him just having the edge in the end. After that, only the second of my total of four pit stops went well and Lewis went on to finish the race in fourth place, which shows what I could have been challenging for.
Even if we had a difficult qualifying and I did not even bother making a second attempt in Q3 to save tyres, the gap in terms of our qualifying to race performance did come down in Turkey, because we struggled less in qualifying and then made an even bigger step forward on Sunday, which is more proof that the car is improving. Why do we have that gap? It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason, but let’s say it just seems to be a characteristic of the car, because even last year, we had a similar situation. I think qualifying is still important, but much less than before, like in the days when it was almost the most crucial part of the weekend, when overtaking another car during the race was so difficult. Even if qualifying is less important, there is nothing disappointing about that, because for the fans, it’s the race that counts as the most important part of the weekend, so the current situation is, in my opinion, good for the sport.
As for the pit stop difficulties, I would say I had a few too many, because without them I was definitely heading for a top five finish. This was frustrating for me and for the team. We do a lot of pit stop practice, but that Sunday it just did not work properly. We will have to study the problem and try and be more consistent, because in a single stop, just a small delay in changing wheels and you can lose position, as happened to me in Istanbul. The pressure on the pit crew is now very great, because not only are they having to be perfect several times during a race, but also since the banning of refuelling, they no longer have that time cushion changing wheels, while waiting for all the fuel to go in. We all have to improve ourselves, drivers included, because our role in the pit-stop operations is very important as well.
Today I am in Rome for a convention run by our technical partner Shell and then for the last two days of the week, I will be in Maranello, in meetings with the engineers and of course, spending time in the simulator; all part of our efforts to keep on pushing to improve our car, because with two more races coming up in the space of two weekends, we have to react as soon as possible to turn our season around. I mentioned the simulator just now and so I would like to wish a speedy recovery to Davide Rigon, a young driver who does a lot of work for us in the simulator and who unfortunately broke his leg in an accident in Sunday’s GP2 race in Istanbul.