The Bahrain Grand Prix was quite frankly a disaster for Ferrari. After showing such promise on qualifying, Alonso lining up third and Massa in fourth, their race was a complete contrast to Saturday’s on track action.
It all started on lap one after Felipe Massa collided with Adrian Sutil at turn four, damaging his front wing. A few laps later the team suffered an unfortunate DRS failure on Alonso’s car ,the flap that opens to reduce the drag went over the catch, sticking open. Alonso quickly pitted but the same problem occurred when he enabled the driver aid on his out lap. For the rest of the race he was stuck with no DRS, on a track where the effects of it were strong that was a big hit.
Their bad luck continued with two different punctures for Felipe Massa. Pirelli are still investigating what happened as the two incidents were completely isolated. That dropped the Brazilian down the field and from there he could not recover. In contrast Alonso showed why he is a double world champion, flying through the field on what was a spectacular recovery for the team to collect four points, crossing the line in eighth place.
Speaking after the race in a team statement, Team Principal Domenicali admitted it was a disastrous weekend for the team. “This is definitely not the outcome we expected after showing all weekend long that we were capable of fighting for the top places. Today’s result needs to be put behind us in a hurry, although there is a feeling of great disappointment that we were unable to bring home the hoped for result. Despite his problem with the DRS, Fernando produced a blistering drive, pulling off overtaking moves and setting lap times that were absolutely incredible.”
Discussing Felipe’s race, he added “Felipe’s race was also very complicated: first of all he was involved in a collision at the start of the race, which damaged the front wing on his F138, then he had tyre problems which compromised his race still further.”
Domenicali is now looking forward for F1’s return to Europe in Spain and the team have high hopes for the race weekend, “In just over three weeks, we will be back on track in Europe and it will be important to turn this trend around immediately. Until then, we will knuckle down and continue with the development of a car that still has plenty of potential to offer.”
Alonso was frustrated by the race gremlins after showing strong promise for good results on Friday and Saturday. “We definitely didn’t have much luck today and that’s a real shame, at the end of what had been such a positive weekend for me and Felipe up until this afternoon. We had been competitive in free practice and qualifying and we were both expecting to have a good race.”
The Spaniard predicted that without the problems, both drivers would have scored good points. “I am sure that without the problems me and Felipe had, we would have finished higher up, because the car responds very well and it is definitely our best of the last four years. But having a good race involves a lot of factors, including a bit of luck.”
With no luck on his side in Bahrain, he returns home to Spain for the next round of the series and he hopes the luck will balance out in time for that race. “Let’s hope it balances out very soon, maybe even starting in Barcelona, my home race. There, it will be even more important to have a good qualifying, because it’s not easy to overtake on that track and so starting from the front is vital.”
Massa branded his race as “really unlucky”, two punctures in one race really did raise questions, before continuing to say “even if it’s true that many things can happen in this sport, I can’t find an explanation for why so many of them have to be negative.”
The Brazilian used his knowledge of the tyres to discuss potential causes of the two punctures, saying “In the first instance it was probably delamination on the right rear and in the second it might have been due to a puncture.” With the fast pace of Formula 1, Massa must now quickly put the past behind him and focus on the next round of the championship. “Now we must try to understand exactly what happened and immediately turn our attention to the next race.”
Ferrari seemed to get all their dose of bad luck in one race, but we saw glimpses of the F138’s speed with Alonso’s fantastic fight back through the field without the help of DRS. They know they have a fast car but will bad luck revisit them again? Only time will tell but Alonso will hope it doesn’t come at his home race in Spain.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic