Eighteen points for Scuderia Ferrari in the Japanese Grand Prix, thanks to a second place from Felipe Massa. His teammate, Fernando Alonso, had to retire just a few hundred metres from the start (371 to be precise) with a puncture to the left rear tyre, caused by contact with Kimi Raikkonen’s front wing: Alonso spun into the gravel and the engine cut out, putting an immediate end to his race. After this weekend, Alonso still leads the drivers’ championship, but his lead over his closest rival has been drastically reduced to 4 points, while Massa has moved up to ninth. The Scuderia has consolidated its third place in the constructors’ classification.
“Today, we were very unlucky: to finish a race like this, at the very first corner is really a shame. Contact from (Kimi) Raikkonen caused a puncture to the left rear tyre and my race ended there. Unfortunately, when you start in the middle of the pack, these things can happen, because apart from the performance of the car - and ours is usually better on Sunday - circumstance can count for a lot. That could be seen from Felipe’s race, who started tenth, but produced a perfect race, fighting with the fastest cars. Clearly, this result has practically wiped out the advantage I had before, but if I’d been told at the start of the season that we would have been in this situation five races from the end, I’d have happily signed for it! Clearly, we must work a lot on the development of the car: I’m not worried, but we must react to the step forward that the other competitors have made. Now we start a sort of mini-championship, run over five Grands Prix. The aim will be to score at least one point more than all the others. What happened to us today could happen to the others next time: the wheel turns and that is what races are all about.”
“It was a fantastic race! Being back on the podium after almost two years away is just great and I feel really uplifted. They have been two tough years for me and, sometimes, a million things go through your mind, some of them bad, but finally I can be happy! It’s an important result psychologically and also in terms of my future, at least I think so! It’s even better getting back on the podium here, at a track I like so much and that I have known since the start of my career. Sometimes, in the hardest moments the best things come: the first people I want to thank right now are my family, my wife and my son. This race motivates me even more for the rest of the season. I feel very sorry for Fernando, because I’m convinced that today we could have both been on the podium. After what happened yesterday in Q2, I was definitely not starting from a good position. I got a good start and managed to get through the chaos at the first corner unscathed and then I immediately felt I had a good pace and that I could keep close to (Jenson) Button and (Kamui) Kobayashi. I got past them at the pit stop thanks to a great strategy and immediately I realised that, even on the hard, my pace was competitive. The team did a great job and provided me with a competitive car: the only difficult moment of the weekend, for which we still don’t have a reason, was the damned second run in Q2... Now we must focus immediately on the race in Korea, because with five races left to go, anything is still possible.”
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal
“Personally, I don’t believe in luck, but given what’s happened these last couple of days, I’m considering changing my mind...The gods that didn’t shine on us yesterday definitely took a shot at us again today! What happened to Fernando at the start is an example of the many variables that you cannot control in this sport and we have to accept it, but clearly all of us are very disappointed at the moment. That sense of regret actually increases when you consider what a splendid race Felipe had, producing a truly impeccable performance. It was nice to see him back on the podium after a long, a too long time! This second place is a very important result for him and for the team and it comes at one of the most difficult and delicate moments of the season. Decisions regarding his future? One step at a time, as now we are enjoying this lovely podium together. Today, we could definitely have picked up a rather different points total, but we have to accept the reality: tonight someone is laughing, but as the saying goes, he who laughs last laughs longest! Five races is a lot and anything can still happen. We have to react calmly to this cruel blow for Fernando and work with maximum concentration on development of the car, as indeed we have done all these past few months. If we are in this position of fighting for the title in the final races, it’s because our work has been of a good standard, otherwise we would be a lot further back. Fernando’s comments on our development? I can very well understand his frustration at the moment and you can be sure that we are doing our utmost to give him a car that matches his talent.”
Pat Fry, Chassis Director
“A bitter sweet Sunday afternoon for us here in Suzuka. Felipe drove a fantastic race right from the start. He was quicker than Button in the first stint and was able to manage the tyres so as to delay his first stop which gave him the opportunity to get by at the pit stop. He managed it and also succeeded in passing Kobayashi, thus opening the door to a race based on two stops. The same thing happened with the hard tyres, as he managed them very well, which set him up to get back on the podium after a break of almost two years. Quite different emotions when it comes to Fernando of course and it couldn’t be otherwise, when one’s race is over at the first corner after the start... Usually, our car is better in the race than in qualifying, but I have to say that, on top of that, we were definitely unlucky with the yellow flags which cost Fernando around a second and a half. Clearly we were not as strong as the Red Bulls, but we were definitely a match for the McLarens that in Singapore had seemed out of our reach. We must not react in an emotional fashion, but rather we need to stay calm and concentrate on the job of developing the car. That’s the best way to react, right from the very next race in Korea. We brought some reasonably significant updates to the last few races and there’s more to come for the next ones. It’s true that sometimes, Singapore for example, not all of them worked in the right way, but it’s equally true that that is something that has happened to others in this season of highs and lows. Now we start again practically from scratch and everything will hang on the development of the car race by race. We must try to be better than the others and we know we have every possibility of doing just that.”