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Scuderia Ferrari's assault on pole position was wiped out in a most awkward fashion in the Italian Grand Prix. Having been fastest in both Q1 and Q2, Fernando Alonso was unable to defend his chances in Q3 because of a problem with the rear anti-roll bar on his car, ending the session tenth. Proof that the F2012 is in fine form came from a great third place for Felipe Massa, for whom this is the best qualifying result since Canada 2011.
Stefano Domenicali: What happened to Fernando this afternoon is a real shame, because today we could have gifted pole position to the fantastic Monza crowd. Felipe drove a great qualifying and we are very happy that he is finally back fighting for the top places on Saturday too. All the signs were there for a nice afternoon, but if you don't have 100% reliability, then you pay a high price and today that was confirmed yet again. First of all, we need to understand what happened to the back end of Fernando's car, but above all, we must immediately put behind us the disappointment we are feeling right now and prepare as well as possible for a race that looks like being very tough, from every perspective. 53 laps of Monza is a lot and everything can still happen. I remain convinced that we can still bring home a strong result in terms of the two championships, but clearly, if everything had gone smoothly today, we would have a much stronger chance.
Fernando Alonso: I think I could have got pole today, but instead I find myself tenth. A real shame, because the car was very strong, but these things happen. It's maybe fifteen years that something like this has happened, but it has and there's no point in crying over it. The problem will be fixed for tomorrow, but of course this result changes everything as far as the race is concerned: we had the chance to increase our lead over our closest rivals, but now, it's likely that at least some of them will make up ground on me. I don't think the failures we've had over the past couple of days can be linked to a speeding up of the development on the car, because they have not involved components on which we are pushing to extremes. Tomorrow, we will try and pick up as many points as possible, maybe getting ahead of some of my direct competitors. We have to accept that problems like these can occur even if, when it does happen, the first reaction is disappointment. Having said that, it's a case of better Saturday than Sunday, because then, you have no chance of remedying the situation! Risks starting in the middle of the pack? Given how the points table looks, it's more a case of the others having to worry about coming away with another no score...
Felipe Massa: I am very happy with this qualifying, the best in a long time for me. This is a very important race for Ferrari and I will do my best to get a good result. I feel sorry for Fernando, as he had been very strong all weekend: we both have a good car and I'm sure that tomorrow we will be able to bring home a good points haul for the championship. We have a chance of beating McLaren, even if they are very strong. For me, getting back on the podium, here in front of our fans, would be wonderful! It's my second home race and racing here is always a fantastic feeling. We tried to make as much use as possible of the slipstream, which requires a lot of concentration, but it's true that in the end, I got my best time when I had no one in front of me.
Pat Fry: We are very disappointed with what happened to Fernando's car this afternoon. A problem with the rear anti-roll bar was spotted at the start of Q3 and cost the Spaniard dear, as he never really managed to put together a proper timed lap. A shame, because Felipe's third place, a few tenths off pole, showed that we had all the potential to aspire to a great result in front of our home crowd: the Brazilian drove an excellent qualifying and deserves this result. We need to look into exactly what happened, but clearly, problems like these cannot occur if one wants to fight for the targets we have set ourselves. Fernando will face an uphill battle tomorrow, while Felipe will be able to exploit his grid position to go on the attack. Tyre performance will, as usual, be very important, especially as at this track the best strategy seems pretty clear. Obviously the priority is reliability and this weekend, we have already paid a high price on that front and we cannot afford to have further problems.
Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.
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