Ferrari F1 driver Fernando Alonso of Spain takes turn two followed by other drivers during the qualification session for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Saturday.
Photograph by: Dario Ayala, The Gazette
MONTREAL — Ferrari got off on the wrong foot in its quest to make up ground in the Formula One championship, with a disappointing outing for both cars during a soggy qualifying session at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Saturday.
Fernando Alonso, the pace setter during Friday’s practice, ended up qualifying sixth in the tricky conditions, compromising his start position for Sunday’s race.
“It was not easy to get it right and very easy to get it wrong in conditions like that,” Alonso said. “We still have the possibility to fight for everything tomorrow if we are fast enough in the race.
“It’s still a little disappointment because we felt very competitive with the car and we start sixth. We need to get it back in the right direction tomorrow and score many points and show the car’s potential.”
Teammate Felipe Massa fared far worse, crashing out during the second portion of qualifying, meaning he will be near the back of the pack — in 16th place — when the start lights blink at 2 p.m. for the start of the 44th edition of the Canadian Grand Prix, the 34th on on Île Notre Dame.
The nightmare outing was the continuation of a frustrating streak for Massa, who banged his steering wheel in anger when his Ferrari slid off the slippery circuit and into the tire barriers at Turn 3. He was not injured.
At the previous stop, in Monaco, the Brazilian did not take part in qualifying at all after he crashed during Saturday morning practice, and there was not enough time to repair the car for the afternoon. In the race, he crashed into the same barrier in carbon-copy style, ending his race and landing him in the hospital for precautionary observation.
At Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Massa appeared to lose control when his wheels touched the painted white line — extra slippery when wet — on the track’s edge.
“I think when I braked I just lost the rear wheels and went sideways. People told me I braked over the white line. It is possible,” he said.
“It’s a shame. I’m really disappointed about what happened. It’s like a movie: three things happening in a line like that.
“Physically, I’m fine. This crash was nothing compared to Monaco. The crash I had here is more a psychological thing than a physical one.”
Alonso, who finished seventh in Monte Carlo, sits third in the championship with 78 points. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel leads with 107 points, followed by Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus with 86.
Alonso’s position was further compromised on Saturday when Vettel secured the pole position — the third year in a row he has done so at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The defending champion has never won the race, however.
Small comfort, but Alonso at least qualified ahead of Raikkonen, his immediate target in the standings. The Finn placed ninth and later lost an additional place because of a pit lane infraction.
F1 rookie Valtteri Bottas of the Williams team delivered the biggest surprise in qualifying, placing third. The team’s previous best this season was 14th. Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was second behind Vettel.
Vettel’s pole-position time on the 4.361 km circuit was 1 minute, 25.425 seconds. The gap to Hamilton was 0.087, while Bottas was 0.472 seconds back. Alonso’s best was 1 minute, 26.504 seconds, 1.079 seconds behind the leader.
Now, Ferrari hopes the traditionally unpredictable nature of the Canadian Grand Prix will work in its favour on Sunday.
“It’s true that it’s not nice to start at the back,” Massa said. “But it’s also true that this is a track where every year things happen in the race.”
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