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GP Week : Issue 181
On the back of a commanding win in China, many were expecting more of the same from Ferrari heading into Bahrain. Brilliant long runs on Friday, allied to a seemingly effortless single lap pace certainly served notice to their opposition ahead of Sunday, only for Ferrari’s weekend to fall apart in the race. Starting from third and fourth on the grid (Massa being elevated from sixth after Webber’s grid penalty), both Ferrari drivers looked decidedly threatening – particularly Massa, who had qualified on the hard tyre and was set for a long first stint. However, the large print giveth, the small print taketh away – as transpired with Alonso’s DRS flap, which stuck open on lap 7. The Spanish racer immediately pitted in the hope of rectifying the problem, but it soon became apparent the rear-wing issue was terminal – forcing Fernando to use maximum downforce for the remainder of the race. Despite being a veritable sitting duck against DRS-enabled opposition, Alonso was able to finish in eighth place, a remarkable achievement given his handicap. As ever, the Asturian was quick to point out the ebb and flow of such a long season; positive that the wheel-of-fortune would turn in Ferrari’s favour sooner or later. “In four races we've had two very unlucky moments,” he said. “But it will come for the others and in that moment we will take our opportunity.” Luck was certainly not on Felipe Massa’s side on Sunday afternoon at the Bahrain International Circuit. Contact with Adrian Sutil’s Force India at Turn 4 damaged the Brazilian’s front wing and he again experienced the front-tyre graining issues that surfaced in Malaysia and China. Oddly, after breaking a front-wing end-plate in Spain 2011, Massa was able to lap five-tenths faster. But in Bahrain it was not to be, with Felipe suffering not one, but two left-rear tyre punctures – similar to the one which ended Lewis Hamilton’s FP3 session and led to an involuntary gearbox change. Pirelli were said to be investigating Massa’s puncture, with Pirelli boss Paul Hembery saying in a statement: “There was clearly an issue with the tyre on Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, which we are investigating at the moment. We’ve seen one sidewall cut and one at the top of the tread and we’re trying to find out what caused those cuts.” Ferrari will be hoping to lick their wounds and minimize any further cuts to their championship campaign when the F1 circus returns to Europe next month. FERRARI ON THE BACK FOOT F1 >>> BAHRAIN 17 GPWEEK.com // 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: