The last two weeks have been very busy as we have got through so much work. The result of it is that, here in Valencia, our two F10s have rolled out on track packed with new components, the most obvious of which is the new exhaust system, now positioned lower than the previous version.
Given the impossibility of testing during the season and the fact that simulation and bench testing can never give a complete picture, there is always a small question mark over the actual effectiveness of new developments, especially when they involve such extreme changes in a very critical area, given the high temperatures involved in the rear end of the car. The truth can only come out after trial by track. And on this occasion, the verdict proved to be exactly as predicted by our engineers, which means to say it’s positive.
That doesn’t mean development of our car stops here. To fight it out with the frontrunners, we need to keep pushing on as hard as we can. And today’s qualifying showed that we probably lack something compared to those who were quickest in pure performance terms.
Fernando is fourth on the grid and Felipe is right behind him. Tomorrow’s race will be tough and difficult, but unlikely to be as incident packed as the Canadian GP, where the difference in performance between the two types of tyre compound supplied by Bridgestone led to tyre strategies that had never been seen so far this season. That doesn’t mean it will be a stroll in the park. On our side, we have a car that gives its best on the hard tyres, so now it’s a case of waiting to see how the 57 lap race pans out.
Felipe and Fernando’s main aim is clear: to get through the first corner without incident and to keep out of trouble. From what we saw in this afternoon’s GP2 race, which had more than its fair share of first lap accidents, getting through the first lap in one piece will play a crucial role in terms of its effect on the final result.
It’s great to be back in North America. That is what the Formula 1 circus thinks about being back in Canada for a Grand Prix that was off the calendar last year. Also good news is the fact that Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro is back amongst the front runners with the car seeming much more comfortable at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit, what with its low downforce configuration, heavy braking and the need for good traction out of the slow corners. It’s definitely better than in Turkey two weeks ago. Fernando certainly knew he had been in a fight come the end of qualifying which he came out of with a fourth place, while Felipe, who didn’t manage to get a perfect lap, was passed by a handful of drivers in the dying moments of the session and will therefore start from the third row in seventh place.
Tomorrow’s 70 laps look like being extremely tough and strenuous, for a variety of reasons. First of all, there’s the track layout itself, which is unforgiving of the slightest mistake, as the walls here are very close to the track, which means the Safety Car could have to make an appearance. Then there’s the matter of the tyres: the softer tyre compound that Bridgestone has brought here is suffering more wear than expected over a long run, basically because of the characteristics of the resurfaced track. This meant that teams adopted different strategies when tackling Q3, given that a driver has to start the race with the same tyres used in qualifying. At the top end of the grid, the Red Bulls and Kubica in the Renault will start on the harder tyre, while our drivers and Hamilton are on the softs. Who has made the right choice?
The Canadian Grand Prix weekend coincides with the start of the football World Cup. So, work in the paddock permitting, everyone has kept an eye on what is going on in South Africa. You can imagine the mood in the Ferrari camp, given that it’s an Italian team with a Brazilian and a Spanish driver, thus representing three of the strongest footballing nations in the world.
One thing is certain however. Putting to one side the understandable divergence of soccer support, the entire team has only one thing on its mind for tomorrow: picking up a really good result.