Maranello, 4 November – The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has never been kind to Scuderia Ferrari. Again this year the circuit alongside the first theme park dedicated to the Prancing Horse had no presents for the men in red. It wasn’t as bad as the first year of this race, when Ferrari failed to score a single point, but yesterday’s 14 points are nothing to shout about. In theory this track is probably the least suited to the F138, especially in the third sector where traction makes the difference. In fact, qualifying showed that between turns 11 and 21, Alonso and Massa made up much of the gap, not just to Red Bull but also to Mercedes. Yesterday, the race pace, as has been the case these past few years, was better than that over a single lap, but clearly starting in the middle of the pack it’s harder to exploit it than with a clear track.
However, this is not the time to be downhearted, quite the contrary. There are nevertheless positive signs that can be taken away from Sunday’s race. Both Felipe and Fernando showed great determination yet again, thrilling the spectators at the track and those watching on television with some really spectacular and brave overtaking moves, such as the Brazilian’s pass on Hamilton and the Spaniard’s on Vergne. The team worked well in the garage and on the pit wall managing a race that was hard to decipher, especially in regards to tyre behaviour. Running a long first stint on the Soft tyres opened the window to try and run a one-stop race, but once it was clear that wasn’t possible, the team reacted promptly and in Fernando’s case led to an important fifth place finish. In fact, he set the race fastest lap in unusual circumstances, showing that on Sunday, the car’s potential is noteworthy.
It’s true therefore that we have lost out to Mercedes in the fight for second place in the Constructors’ Championship, but there is still plenty of room to remedy the situation in Austin on 17 November and then in Interlagos a week later. The team has not resigned itself to its fate, as it returned to Maranello today. It is aware that a slight improvement in qualifying of all the components, can allow it to close the gap in the classification. Difficult but not impossible.