Ferrari is happy with its race pace after focusing on evaluating tyres over longer runs during Friday practice at the Australian Grand Prix, but says the relative qualifying pace of the top teams is still unknown.

Fernando_Alonso-F1_GP-Australia_2013-01Ferrari finished Friday’s free practice over 0.8s off the pace of Sebastian Vettel as the two Red Bulls comfortably topped the times in the second session. However, chief designer Nikolas Tombazis said Ferrari’s main focus had been on understanding the tyres rather than chasing quick times.
“Red Bull obviously demonstrated to be very competitive, but we didn’t have any doubts about their competitiveness because we know they are a very strong team and had a good performance in testing,” he said. “We don’t know exactly where the relative pecking order is against the top four teams. We concentrated primarily on the tyre evaluation so I think on the race simulation stuff we were looking reasonable and on the pure qualifying stuff it is difficult to judge because the exact fuel loads and times when people went out.

“I suspect we are only likely to know where we are on qualifying pace in Malaysia because Saturday is going to be probably wet. I don’t think we will know exactly where we are until next weekend.”

He said Ferrari had not had any nasty surprises on its first day of running in Melbourne.

“In terms of performance we are approximately where we were expecting to be compared to Barcelona. But as I said in Barcelona, and it also applies here in Friday practice, we are still very unable to comment on our relative pecking order compared to our competitors. We will need to wait a bit more for more definitive comments.”

However, Tombazis does not think Red Bull is streaking away from the rest of the field.

“I don’t think I agree that the gaps are bigger than last year,” he said. “Clearly there are people that have made progress and people that have made a bit less progress, but, as I mentioned before, and I don’t think I was hiding anything, we need to wait for proper conditions to really judge where people are.”

Info: ESPN, Image: Ferrari