Fernando Alonso admitted fourth place was the best result Ferrari could have achieved at the Belgian Grand Prix and laid the blame for the team’s struggles on the medium-tyre performance of his 150 Italia car.
The Spanish driver looked like mounting a serious challenge as he climbed from eighth to second behind Sebastian Vettel but when he pitted for medium tyres in his second stop, the pace dropped and he was eventually passed by both Mark Webber and Jenson Button.
“It would have been difficult to do better than this fourth place today, especially given how much we suffered on the Medium tyres: in these conditions, we are a second and a half slower than the best,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I had a real chance of winning, but a podium was within our grasp. The strategy saw me lead in the early stages, but then, we knew that in the final part, we would have struggled more.
“I had fun in the first stint: the start was good and then I had some nice duels. A shame about the podium, it was our target and was possible, despite qualifying eighth yesterday. Compared to the gap we saw yesterday in qualifying, the situation was very different today, but we are well aware that, with temperatures which were definitely not very hot for summer time, we paid too high a price.”
Alonso, though, continues to insist that he will not give up on a title challenge.
“At the moment, we must congratulate our opponents, who are doing a fantastic job, but we will not give up, at least until the mathematics tell us otherwise: we will always try and win, giving it our best shot, starting in Monza, a very special event for Ferrari and for all its fans.”
Team principal Stefano Domenicali admitted that while the team’s development of the 150 Italia has seen the team progress, work on solving poor performance in colder temperatures had delivered little.
“We know what is our Achilles’ heel and we have to continue to work on it,” he said. “We have made up ground in some areas, but on this one – I refer to the ideal window of operation for the tyres – we are still lagging behind. Now we go to Monza, our home race. Our objective is unchanged, which means trying to win. I am convinced we can be on the pace, while aware of the fact we are up against very strong opponents.”
Meanwhile, Felipe Massa, who had started fourth admitted he had driven a “strange race” that saw him finish in Alonso’s starting position of eighth.
“It was rather a strange race for me,” said the Brazilian. “In the opening phase I was absolutely in the fight for the top places, but then I started to have tyre problems and the car seemed to no longer be so well balanced.
“With the mediums, the situation improved, maybe also down to an adjustment to the front wing which we made at the pit stop, but we were not quick enough, as was clearly evident and by then it was too late. On top of that, I also had a puncture on the left-rear tyre which meant I had to make another stop.”