It was a busy time for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, on the first day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa covered over one hundred laps, much of them in the morning aimed at evaluating various aerodynamic configurations, while in the afternoon, the two drivers concentrated on the more usual Friday programme at a Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso: “Given how things went today, it looks like being a difficult weekend, but we will do all we can to get close to the quickest. Today, things did not go well and we struggled to find a good balance on the car, so this evening we will look at how we can improve. On a track like this, with such variable weather and with tyre degradation being what it is, there will be a lot of factors in play in the fight for the top places and just being quickest will not be enough. This morning
we did a lot of work on the aerodynamics to understand what had not worked the way we had expected in Australia, but even if we had been quick in Melbourne, there would still be work to do. This is only the start of the season: we are not quick enough to fight for the win and pole position, but that does not mean that we have to throw in the towel. Instead we have to step up our efforts to quickly reduce the gap that separates us from those who have done a better job than us.”
Felipe Massa: “It’s logical that I had expected and had hoped to be quicker, especially when compared to the two teams that are clearly in front. Let’s see what we can do between this evening and tomorrow to improve the car. There is not much grip and also tyre degradation is very high and, as could be seen in the final part of the second session, when everyone was presumably running with a heavy fuel load, we were not the only ones having a problem. If the race was to
take place in the dry, choosing the right strategy would be very complicated. The soft tyres work better, giving much more grip and they are much quicker, although there is a lot of degradation. The hard seems to be slower and, at first, seems a bit more consistent, but it does not last that much longer than the other. We will have to be ready for anything this weekend. In the last two days, we have seen that at the time qualifying and the race are due to start, it always rains. If that
also happens in the next two days, anything could happen.”
Pat Fry: “We got through a lot of work on this first day of free practice. In fact, apart from the usual Friday programme, we wanted to carry out a whole series of aerodynamic tests to try and gather as much data as possible on the handling of the car, especially in terms of the front end. In quantitive terms we achieved our aim because the programme was completed as planned. Now it’s up to us to analyse the data and get the answers we are looking for. It will be a tough job, but a vital one to understand in which direction to go in the development of the car. Having done that, we then concentrated on all the usual Friday tasks, which means looking for the best set-up and especially on comparing the two types of tyre we have here.
From what we could see, it looks like being a very busy weekend for the pit stop guys, because the degradation, at least in these conditions, seems higher than in Melbourne. The alternative scenario is rain which seems likely for Sunday…From a performance point of view, allowing for all the unknown factors on a Friday, the situation does not seem that different to the one in Australia: our aim is try and make the most of what we have got at our disposal.”