Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is upbeat about his victory chances in the Indian Grand Prix after a strong qualifying performance on Saturday, while teammate Felipe Massa crashed out.
Alonso will start from third in Sunday’s race. He and said Ferrari’s habit of performing better in races than qualifying, plus the increased possibilities of overtaking, raised the prospect of only the second victory of the season for the Italian team.
”We always struggle on Saturday and improve in the race, so being third we have the possibility of a better race,” Alonso said. ”We want to be on the podium since it is the first race in India and it will be good to have a trophy home.”
The 30-year-old Spaniard said the amount off the racing line and the tricky double chicane mid-lap means caution will be required.
”As we saw in the circuit, so there will be no room for mistakes,” Alonso said. ”You go on the grass and you can hit one of those curves as well. It is a challenge for us and we have to be careful.”
Massa broke his right front suspension by going roughly over a curb, then crashed into a tire wall. Blaming the curb rather than himself, the Brazilian said both Ferraris could have been in the top four if not for that accident.
”When you have a high speed curve like that your car has a lot of downforce. When you hit some concrete you can have a failure in the suspension, that’s what happened with me,” said Massa, who suggested that F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting address the issue.
”He may not be able to do anything for tomorrow, but for next year he can do a better job for the curve,” Massa said.
Massa said problems with the track surface were to be expected because of the rush to get the circuit completed in time for the inaugural race.The track is dusty because work was done in a hurry with many trucks, he said.
Ferrari’s improved qualifying performance was likely the result of a new front wing the team was using in India. The amount of flexibility in the wing caused it to make contact with the circuit on the undulating main straight, sending up sparks.
Overly flexible bodywork is illegal in F1 and after a visit from FIA officials during practice, Ferrari switched to a slightly different version of the same wing, reducing the movement.