This afternoon's qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix was the best team performance of the season so far. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa ended the session setting the sixth and seventh fastest times respectively, but the Spaniard will actually start from fifth, because of the penalty imposed on pole-setter Schumacher after the Spanish Grand Prix. Both drivers ran identical tyre usage programmes: one set of Softs in Q1, two of Supersoft in Q2 and one further Supersoft in Q3.
Stefano Domenicali: All in all, we can be pleased with the overall result of this qualifying, the first time this season that we have managed to get both our drivers through to Q3, I am particularly happy for Felipe who finally managed to show what he is capable of. As has more than ever been the case this year, all three parts that go to make up qualifying are very closely contested and it only takes the slightest thing to turn things on their head. Tomorrow's race will have everything going for it, from the first to the last lap. We know just how much the many imponderables in this race can effect the outcome and this time, there's the additional factor of tyre behaviour over a long run, given that no one was able to check on that during free practice. We must be ready to deal with any eventuality and react to every changing situation. Finally, I want to congratulate Michael Schumacher for his fantastic pole position: I think this result comes at the right time for him and on a track that has played a truly significant role in his career.
Fernando Alonso: In Italy there's a saying, 'he who goes slowly, goes well and goes far', right? Well, that's what we are doing: step by step we are getting closer. I am happy with this qualifying, the best as a team that we have seen this season. I have had a good feeling all weekend long. Maybe in Q3, we could have shaved a few hundredths off here and there, but I don't think I'd have moved up any places, given that the driver in front of me is three tenths away. Usually here it falls to the top three on the grid to fight for the win, so I think that our realistic goal is a place on the podium, but we also know that surprises are the order of the day. We saw that again today, with Michael on pole: I was very pleased for him, even though he won't be able to make the most of it because of the penalty. This afternoon and tomorrow morning I will have to work along with the team to decide on the best strategy. The Softs behave well, but we will start on the Supersofts, therefore we go into it a bit blind in terms of how long they will last: we will find out in the race how they perform. In terms of the championship, it's a good grid, given that of the immediate rivals, only Hamilton starts ahead of us and Vettel is actually ninth. Michael alongside me on the grid? It's been a while, so it will be nice to have him close by, but I'll be concentrating on passing the four in front rather than thinking about the sixth placed man.
Felipe Massa: It was a good qualifying and I could definitely have done even better than this seventh place: fifth was within my reach, given what we saw in Q1 and Q2. Unfortunately, in Q3 I did not manage to get a perfectly clean lap because of traffic, but that's an easy thing to find here. Having said that, I am very happy with how things have gone in this Grand Prix so far. Finally, I am having fun at the wheel of the F2012: clearly the set-up we have chosen here makes it much easier to make the most of its potential. It's a point to keep in mind for the rest of the championship too. We still struggle a bit in the places where traction is crucial, which can easily be seen by comparing our car, corner by corner with the best ones, however in this area too we have made progress. Michael did a great lap and I congratulate him: a shame that he will then find himself very close to me on the grid tomorrow afternoon. Let's hope we have a good race tomorrow and that a new championship can really get underway for me!
Pat Fry: I don't think we could have done better in terms of performance. As I said yesterday, we have got closer to the quickest but not to the extent that we can fight for pole position. We still have work to do to close the gap. However, it's very positive to have finally managed to get both our drivers into Q3. Tomorrow, it will be very important to interpret the race strategy as well as possible because the number of variables in play is greater than usual, given that there is not enough data on tyre behaviour. I think we could witness quite a variety of strategies and we must do a good job of reacting to any eventuality: the Safety Car often plays a role at this track. On top of that, there is always a question mark as to the weather: at the moment it is not forecast to rain, but you never know what can happen here!
Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.