Abu Dhabi – The surrounding of the new Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi for the last race of the 2009 season is truly breathtaking, but the race will be a pursuit with many expectations. It’s the Scuderia’s last possibility to gain the third place in the Constructors’ Championship, but after today’s qualifying this doesn’t seem to be an easy task. Ferrari’s competitors seem to be one step ahead due to aerodynamic improvements introduced over the last part of the season, while the F60 hasn’t been updated for quite a while. Ferrari is completely concentrated on the 2010 car, a season which will be a return game after a very difficult year.
Ferrari’s outcome in today’s qualifying is fairly negative: neither of the two F60s with Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella made it into Q3 and therefore will start from the 11th and the 20th position on the grid respectively. There are several reasons for this result. First of all the lack of grip and the tyre behaviour, which here in Abu Dhabi plays a fundamental role. Although it has to be said that there’s a positive side to all of this, underlined by Kimi himself: starting from the 11th position on the grid means to start from the clean side of the track, which is very important considering the use of the KERS to improve the position right at the start. The Finn might therefore even manage to get into the points.
Tomorrow will be the last Grand Prix for Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella behind the wheel of a Ferrari. Kimi will leave the team while Giancarlo Fisichella will become the Scuderia’s third driver. There’s already lots of nostalgia for the two drivers and the fans show all their affection for Kimi and his successful three years with the Prancing Horse with three World Titles won: the Drivers’ Title in 2007 and two Constructors’ Titles in 2007 and 2008.
Meanwhile Chairman Luca Di Montezemolo, Vice-Chairman Piero Ferrari, Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa will support the team at the track in their last effort. That’s some sort of delegation from Maranello here in Abu Dhabi to encourage the team in the fight for the third place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Interlagos - We all know that keeping the third place isn't an easy task, especially now that Ferrari is concentrating it's energy on next year's car, but today the weather didn't really help the cause, surprising Giancarlo Fisichella, who, four minutes into Q1, spun his car setting an end to his hopes for a good position on tomorrow's starting grid: the Italian will start from the 20th position. It went better for the other F60, with Kimi Raikkonen, who managed to gain the fifth position. The Finnish driver, excluding any surprises in tomorrow's race, will be the only one of the two Ferrari drivers with the possibility to be able to collect points.
Meanwhile over the last days the eyes were set on Felipe Massa's return, two months after his heavy accident during the Hungarian GP's qualifying. He was all smiles and in great form, confirmed by the positive outcome of the latest tests in Fiorano last Monday, where Felipe drove around 100 kilometres with a F2007 with GP2 tyres. The Brazilian fans on the grandstands were enthusiastic for Felipe, who was invited to wave the chequered flag tomorrow. Even the FIA, due to the enormous enthusiasm for the Ferrarista, allowed Felipe to participate in the official press conference, an event usually reserved to the GP participants.
Another event raising interest was the meeting between Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, who yesterday met at the Scuderia Ferrari pitwall. The two drivers, who will be teammates as of 2010, shook hands and had a chat about the ongoing Championship, a demonstration of - if there even was the need - the good relationship between the two drivers for the next season.
The Japanese GP hasn't even started, but it will be remembered as a very important moment for Ferrari. The announcement from last Wednesday that Fernando Alonso will arrive behind the wheel of a Red as of the next season concentrated the fans' and staffs' attention for the whole week. The Spaniard will be in the team with Felipe Massa. The fans expect a lot from Fernando, nothing less than a World Title. While Fernando himself said that he's happy to be part of the history of Ferrari, a desire he said he had for his whole career. Meanwhile the team thanked Kimi Raikkonen for the two seasons together and the Finn now has to decide what he wants to do in the future, without excluding the possibility to move to the world of rally, but without shutting the doors to Formula 1.
The return to the Suzuka circuit wasn't a walk in the park for the drivers. Today's qualifying was extremely exciting with several accidents. Three interruptions during Q2 caused by accidents of Toro Rosso with Jaime Alguersuari and the Toyota with Timo Glock, who drove into the barriers. At the end of the second session the Toro Rosso with Sebastién Buemi ran off the track. Also Q3 was interrupted due to Heikki Kovalainen loosing control of his McLaren. It seems that tomorrow's race will be extremely exciting, especially as far as the Safety Car is concerned, which could condition the GP's outcome. And then there is the weather, playing a fundamental role. After the heavy rain during Friday's difficult free practice sessions a beautiful sun could be seen over the Japanese circuit today, although rain is foreseen for tomorrow, while the race should be held in the dry. But we know that quick changes are quite possible in this area.
It's going to be a hard race for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. Kimi's and Giancarlo's F60 will start from the eighth position and sixteenth position on the starting grid respectively. The pole-position went to Sebastian Vettel on Red-Bull, while Jarno Trulli for Toyota will be alongside him on the front row. Ferrari's main competitors for the third place in the Constructors' Championship, Lewis Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes, will start from the third position on the grid. Once again, the pit-stop strategy will be a key point for the race, but also KERS will play an important role, expecially on the start, where it can be useful for both Ferrari's drivers to gain positions. The goal is always to bring home the third place in Costructors' Championship, even if this season finale appears unforeseeable.