Ferrari and Alonso get a boost from third, but have a long road ahead
Monday 09 May 2011
Third place, after a long stint in second, was a major fillip for Ferrari, and even Fernando Alonso smiled about it while at the same time acknowledging that qualifying fifth and finishing in the last podium slot isn't the way to win a world championship.
"I was very pleased with the pace of the car," the Spaniard said. "We did a good weekend and the car performed a bit better than in the first three races and we enjoyed racing and fighting for podium positions.
"Mark [Webber] and I lost time behind Nico Rosberg at the beginning and the chance to fight Sebastian [Vettel], then I had a bit of an advantage on tyre degradation on Mark in the middle stage and used the DRS wing to pass, but at the end it was more or less the opposite and he repassed me."
Fourth and sixth places for McLaren were disappointing, but a machine failure in the factory in Woking last week had prevented them bringing any new upgrades to Turkey, and both drivers started from the dirty side of the grid.
"I got a pretty decent start but made a mistake on the opening lap and lost a lot of ground out of Turn Three when I was trying to go around Webber," Lewis Hamilton admitted.
"That was the defining moment of my afternoon: if I hadn't dropped behind Fernando and Jenson [Button], I think I could have got up to third and battled for second. The battle early on with Jenson was good and fair, but that, and the fact that I had too much front-wing dialled into my car, meant I struggled to look after the rear tyres; they were finished and that's what kick-started the four-stop strategy."
He also lost time in a pit stop when the right front wheelnut got cross-threaded. "Considering that, I think we recovered reasonably well. I don't think that made a huge difference overall, and I was quite happy with the way the car behaved once we'd taken out some wing. We were definitely able to do better today – but to start fourth and sixth and finish fourth and sixth was a good recovery."
Mercedes lacked the speed they'd shown in qualifying, but Rosberg was satisfied with fifth. "Our strategy worked out well to bring me back into a decent position so we can be reasonably satisfied, and I'm happy to be in front of Jenson and just a few seconds behind Lewis."
Button, unable to resist either Hamilton or Rosberg in the closing stages because his three-stop strategy gave him less fresh rubber than they had because of stopping four times, was philosophical. "It's a pity to finish so far back after everything in the first stint seemed to go so well. Strategy-wise, I don't think we got it right today. My battle with Lewis was great fun and I think there was a lot of excitement on the track, but I was disappointed to finish where I did: the car felt very good but we just went the wrong way on strategy.
"I think most people probably started the race aiming for a three-stopper, but because many of them damaged their tyres in the first stint, they changed their approach. We didn't, and I was able to put a couple of laps on everyone and my tyres still felt pretty good – but I felt the next two stops were earlier than the tyres could have done, which is disappointing. We didn't leave the stops late enough – the tyres were still good at the end of every stop, so we should have stayed out longer because it just made the last stint extremely difficult."
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