Ferrari preview the Abu Dhabi GP


Fernando Alonso insists he wants a second victory more than second in the Championship while Felipe Massa still wants his first…

Fernando Alonso insists he wants a second victory more than second in the Championship while Felipe Massa still wants his first…

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Fernando Alonso: I’m on my way to Abu Dhabi, where I will arrive this evening ahead of the penultimate round of this long season. We’ve now come to the end of the championship: there’s still second place in the drivers’ standings to play for but, to be honest, I would we much happier if we could add another win to the one we took at Silverstone in July. Talking to the guys in the team I can see they would really love to give me the chance to come second in the championship. I’m delighted it’s like that because I know they feel it would be some kind of recognition for the efforts that have been put in by everyone during the season. But you know how we drivers are made: we always want to come first and the other positions are less important.

I completely appreciate that winning will be very difficult. In this closing part of the season the relative positions are very clear but we have also seen there are some conditions in which we can fight for victory: as happened in Suzuka, for example. We know if we all get everything right we can fight for the top three but our natural qualifying position is on the third row. Then in the race things can go differently but that is the realistic situation. So our target is the podium. Apart from anything else that result would allow me to fill a gap in my trophy cabinet as Abu Dhabi is the only race on the calendar from which I have yet to bring home silverware.

I’m sure that the most frequent question in tomorrow’s press briefings will be about my return to the Yas Marina circuit after last year’s race. It would not be honest if I told you I won’t be a bit uncomfortable thinking about it tomorrow morning when I see the paddock for the first time. But then the feeling will vanish and it will leave room for the present, which is about aiming to do well this weekend and in the future: to learn as much as possible with next season in mind. It’s right that it should be like that because in sport, as in the rest of life, you must always look ahead. Abu Dhabi 2010 was an important stage in my career and I have no doubt that even through that bad day, my relationship with Ferrari has become even stronger.

Felipe Massa: I have just arrived in Abu Dhabi from Sao Paolo where I spent the time since the last round of the championship in New Delhi. I still have very vivid memories of my first trip to India, even if I see no point in going over what happened in the race itself. The track was very nice, one of the best on the calendar, but above all the people there were very excited about Formula 1. With more and more places in the world appearing to be the same, India was so very different to anything I had seen before. The people were very welcoming and friendly and it was clear that the country has huge potential for growth, but at the same time you still also see a lot of poverty. Despite this, I think India has a definite future in F1 and this year, if not everything was quite ready, we have to make allowances for the fact it was only the first year for the Grand Prix there.

With the Formula 1 season going through to the end of November, this year was the first time in many years that I have not attended the Ferrari World Finals event which took place at Mugello last weekend, but of course I am aware of what our President Montezemolo and Domenicali said about me over there, making it clear once again that I am definitely driving for the Scuderia next season. From my point of view, it is important that I have the full support of the team behind me, which is always very positive. However, at the moment my main focus is on continuing to push as hard as I can for these last two races of the season. I know that next year will be a very important one for the whole team, given that this season did not go as well as expected and it will also be a very important time for me. Within the team, we are already looking to next year, knowing that our pre-season target must be to produce a package that can be competitive from the very first Grand Prix, allowing us to fight for the win at every race. In 2012 we must have a better season than this one.

Now we come to Abu Dhabi, where I only drove for the first time last year, as I missed the first race there in 2009, because of my injury. The facility itself is fantastic and the track is quite interesting. However, one negative point about it was that we did not see much overtaking, but I expect this year with the DRS, it should help to produce a better race this weekend. It’s a unique timetable on Sunday as we start the race in daylight and then go on to race under the lights at night. This doesn’t present any problem, in fact the positive element is that it gets cooler as the race goes on and the track lighting is excellent. For us these last two races are a final chance to get some good results, but also these recent races have been very much part of our preparations for 2012. We have been trying some components that could find their way onto the new car, but also we have been looking at new ideas in terms of how we run the car and how best to adapt the set-up. I think this is very important as part of our preparation for the future, not just from a technical point of view but also how we approach the race weekend.

The race at Yas Marina is also special for Ferrari because of the team’s many close links with Abu Dhabi, which is most obviously seen from the fact we have our own theme park there, just alongside the race track, Ferrari World. Last year I went for a ride on the fantastic rollercoaster they have there, which was an enjoyable and exhilarating experience, so I can’t wait to go again and this time, I’ll take my wife with me!