Stefano Domenicali rues Ferrari's failure to give Fernando Alonso a competitive car
Title-chasing Spaniard will only start Sunday's GP in seventh
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 03/11/12 4:38pm
With the World Championship slipping away from Alonso, the team have twice broken the curfew at the Yas Marina circuit this weekend to bolt on last-minute arrivals direct from their Maranello factory.
Yet despite the raft of new parts on the Spaniard's F2012, Alonso was only able to qualify in seventh, nearly a second down on Lewis Hamilton's pole-sitting time, prompting an unusually-animated Domenicali to deliver a stinging rebuke of his team.
"Obviously we are not happy, in fact we are very disappointed with this result. We were unable to give our drivers a car with which they could compete for the front rows of the grid, despite all our best efforts here at the track and back at the factory in Maranello," commented the Ferrari boss in the team's own press release.
"We can't always hope for exceptional performances like the one Fernando produced last Sunday in India."
The remarks follow reports in the Italian press this week that Alonso was enraged by comments from Ferrari technical chief Pat Fry after qualifying for last Sunday's Indian GP that could have been interpreted as amounting to implicit criticism of the Spaniard.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this Saturday's briefing found Fry towing the party line as he joined Domenicali in absolving Alonso and Felipe Massa, who will start directly behind his team-mate in ninth, of any blame for the Scuderia's lacklustre showing.
"All I can do is repeat what our boss has said: we are disappointed that we did not give our drivers a sufficiently competitive car," Fry declared. "We had brought various updates here, some only fitted to Fernando's car, because we do not yet have enough of them for both.
"Unfortunately, the whole package did not work the way we had expected before coming here, at least relative to the progress that the other teams have made. Both Felipe and Fernando did the maximum they could: unfortunately they had already reached the limit in Q2, which explains why it's not by chance that Fernando did practically the same time three times in a row, while the others raised the bar in Q3."
Alonso's qualifying struggles have been a familiar theme throughout the season, with the Spaniard's average-starting position a modest sixth. Nonetheless, Alonso has continued to wrestle his under-paced charger into a championship-challenging position and it's likely that the F2012 will prove to be far more competitive in race-trim than it was on Saturday afternoon.
Alonso, naturally, is hoping as much.
"Usually, Saturday is the day we suffer the most, while on Sunday things always go better: let's hope that will also be the case this time," said Fernando.
"It's also true that with so little tyre degradation, the strategic choices are much more limited and so too the opportunities to make up places. We know that in the three remaining races, we must score fourteen points more than Vettel and that is our one and only objective."