Alonso pleased with fourth and new Ferrari upgrades


Fernando Alonso is pleased to have qualified fourth for the Austrian Grand Prix after benefitting from Mercedes’ problems during the qualifying session today.

Lewis Hamilton made a mistake on both of his hot laps in Q3, meaning that he will start the race down in ninth place. Alonso was just one of the drivers to make the most of his demise, qualifying in fourth place.

The result is in fact Alonso’s best dry qualifying result of the season, having also qualified fourth during the wet session ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Despite the result, Alonso is aware that Ferrari is not normally running in fourth place at the moment, but he is very pleased with the upgrades on his F14 T car.

“Definitely it was not a normal qualifying, of which we took advantage,” he explained. “It is not normal to see Hamilton behind us or Mercedes.

“Definitely the new parts that we ran in Canada and here, they seem to work fine. In Canada, the track or layout or whatever was not good for us, so we didn’t to have a good race, but the new parts were better than the old ones.

“Here, again, we tested some more. They seem mostly positive, so hopefully we’re moving in the right direction. We know that there’s still a long way to go.”

Given Mercedes’ pace during practice, Alonso knows that, under normal conditions, he will struggle to beat both Hamilton and Nico Rosberg during the race tomorrow.

“We were 1.1 seconds behind the Mercedes this morning in practice. Now we have one Mercedes ahead and one Mercedes behind, so I don’t think that everybody used their full potential.”

The biggest beneficiary from Hamilton’s mistake was Felipe Massa, Alonso’s former teammate, who secured his first pole position since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring today.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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