Ferrari preview the Chinese GP

Thursday 12-April-2012 10:09

Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa both concede the team needs to make improvements in China if they hope to fight for a podium finish...

Fernando Alonso: Here we are in Shanghai for the start of the third race weekend of the year. For sure, arriving here in China as the leader of the Championship is something I would never have expected, at least given the way winter testing went. It means we have done a good job, managing to make use of all the potential at our disposal and making the most of every opportunity. Since I first arrived in Maranello, at the start of 2010, I have seen the team grow a lot in all areas relating to track activity, from strategy to the work in the garage and at the pit stops.

I know I can count on a very strong group, which is very important and there is a great sense of purpose shared by all. We know our car is not at the level we had wanted going into this season, but everyone is reacting very well, everyone is very united, which is what you get with a real team that wants to reach its objectives.

I'm not expecting any surprises in this race, compared to what we saw in Australia and Malaysia. It's true almost three weeks have gone by, but that does not mean there was enough time to completely turn the car around in such a short time: we will have a few small updates, but nothing particularly significant and on top of that, we can expect that the other teams will also bring some new parts.

Therefore, we won't change our approach to this Grand Prix: to get a good result, we will need to concentrate on ourselves, trying to be perfect and to exploit every possibility that might come our way over the weekend.

I don't want to come out with statements that our aim is to finish in this or that position, as these discussions are not worth the time spent on them. We will have to do the maximum and bring home as many points as possible: a bit like ants who start something one day, knowing it will produce something worthwhile in the future.

I'm expecting tomorrow to be a rather busy day, with various promotional and media activities, both at the track and outside it. China is a very important country for Ferrari and for its technical and commercial partners and the Formula 1 Grand Prix represents a unique opportunity, not to be missed.

Finally, if I had to draw a conclusion from what I've seen in the last 24 hours, I would say there is a great enthusiasm from the local people, especially the young ones. As you have been able to see on @alo_oficial, yesterday afternoon there was a huge crowd of boys and girls waiting for me at the airport and even outside the hotel. It's always nice to experience the enthusiasm of the fans, especially so in a country where Formula 1 is not part of its history. It means the spectacle and excitement that our sport provides is still very attractive.

Felipe Massa: China is a big country, but even bigger is the enthusiasm the Chinese have for Formula 1! I have to say it's hard to find another place among the many we visit during the season where there is a greater sense of passion from the fans: maybe only in Italy and Brazil do you get a similar level. I arrived in Shanghai two days ago and found so many people already waiting for me at the airport, with presents for me and Felipinho. Even outside the hotel - look at the photos I've posted on @felipe1massa - there is always someone waiting, whether it's pouring with rain like last night, or if it's sunny.

I like this warmth and this enthusiasm which energises me a lot. There is so much energy coming off this city too: enormous, chaotic, call it what you will, but it's certainly alive. I've said it before in the past, it reminds me of Sao Paolo. For sure, we Brazilians are different to the Chinese, but the vitality of the two cities is very similar. There is a lot to do and I really enjoyed these past two days relaxing with Raffaela and Felipinho, for whom this is his first time in China!

This afternoon, I started tackling my promotional duties for Ferrari and its partners. We have a lot of them in the next few days, as is normal with a race that takes place in a country that is in a state of rapid growth, like China and indeed it's another thing it shares with my native Brazil. Then tomorrow afternoon it will be time to start the usual meetings with the engineers to prepare for the race. I really hope I can have a normal Grand Prix without problems, right from Friday: that is fundamental to being able to finally get a good result. I know it won't be easy, also because I don't think we can expect any major new elements, at least in the short term. We will have to try and squeeze every last drop out of what we have, as Fernando has managed to do in both Australia and Malaysia.

I was at Maranello last week too, working on the simulator to be as well prepared as possible for the next two races, studying every minute detail relating to what did not work properly in Melbourne and Sepang, to get it right and be ready for China and Bahrain. It's a tricky time for me and it cannot go on and I really don't want it to that's for sure. I know there is plenty of criticism of me from the outside, but I'm used to that, as it's certainly not the first time it has happened. I feel the team has faith in me and that's what matters. I am well aware, having been through it many times in the past, that it takes very little for a situation to swing from negative to positive.

Last year in China, I finished the race in sixth place, but it was only in the latter stages that I was struggling, because on the Prime tyre, I could not match the pace I had on the Option. A shame, as I remember still lying second on lap 43. I've been on the Shanghai podium twice: on the third step in 2007 and on the second in 2008. It's a track I like: there are many different types of corner and a very long straight where even before the days of DRS, you could overtake. Sure, this year, we will suffer a bit, especially in terms of top speed, therefore it won't be easy for us. However, it's not definite that whoever is fastest wins in the end...

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