Features - Interview
APRIL 11, 2011
BY TONY DODGINS
Ferrari had a difficult qualifying session in Malaysia but a stronger race that was ultimately handicapped by a left-front wheel problem at Felipe Massa's first stop and a failure of Fernando Alonso's DRS rear wing. Tony Dodgins listened to Stefano Domenicali reflect on a race that brought fifth place for Massa and sixth for Alonso
Q: Your race pace was good but how do you improve qualifying?
We know that our race pace is better than our qualifying speed and the important element to understand is the tyre usage. We have seen clearly how there are differences between drivers who are in the same car and that has an important effect. One element where we need a big step is to create better downforce on the car. If we do that we can start further up. We saw today that both our cars were behind Mark (Webber), who didn't have a fantastic start, so we lost out there and were in traffic at the first corner. It was always then an uphill climb. We need to understand how to do better in qualifying. At this moment we can probably take out Vettel, but with Webber and the McLarens you could see crystal clear that we could be fighting for a podium.
Q: Were there too many pit stops in the race?
It's not easy for the public and it's hard for the teams but that's the way it is. It is part of this year's game and we don't have to make excuses. It puts more pressure on the team to be perfect and unfortunately today we had a problem with Felipe's first stop, which cost a lot of positions. When that happens you have to push, you use the tyres more and it's all connected -- a new situation this year.
Q: How did you read Fernando's incident with Lewis?
We could have overtaken Lewis on the straight because it was a clear difference in terms of pace, and then we could have gone and attacked Jenson.
Q: So was it a mistake by Fernando?
I can't say that. When you are trying to overtake and there is difference in performance you can't say that. I like the way Fernando drives, it's fantastic and the other consideration this year is that if you go off-line it's a big problem. There are loads of marbles off-line. You try to keep your line and suddenly if you go off line you get marbles on the tyre and lose performance. So if the overtaking opportunity is not clear, you have to take some risk. But it's a shame because without the rear wing problem for Fernando we could have really attacked.
Q: What happened with Fernando's DRS rear wing and when did he lose its use?
We don't know why it failed but it was early in the race. He was unable to use it to attack when needed and it looks as if it was a mechanical problem.
Q: Do you like the F1 that we can't predict and in which drivers can't defend?
We can have two categories of thought. We have seen two races that were quite different in that respect, even if one has been affected on our side because of the wing problem. For sure it's a new situation we have to face and need to make sure that we give it the best chance. The main purpose was to have more overtaking and the question is whether this is a natural thing for F1 or, is it something artificial? From the spectacle point of view a lot of people like to see the wing opening and closing and the drivers getting closer and fighting. The other thing is that it's a fact and we have to live with that. From the team's perspective we have to make sure that the thing is working, otherwise we fail on both points‘‚ œno show and no overtaking opportunities!