2011 Season: Ferrari preview
19 March, 2011
Mar.19 (Daniel Chalmers) Looking ahead at the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship, which gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix weekend, at Albert Park in Melbourne with Free Practice 1 on Friday 25 March.
Race Debut: Monaco 1950
Team President: Luca Di Montezemolo
Team Principal: Stefano Domenicali
Technical Director: Aldo Costa
Chief Designer: Nikolas Tombazis
Race starts: 812
Race victories: 215
Pole Positions: 205
Fastest laps: 224
Races led: 382
Strength: Currently the most reliable team when it comes to building a quick car.
Weakness: Strategy has been an issue ever since Ross Brawn left the team. This needs to be solved this year, as Pirelli tyres will make strategy more critical.
Losing the championship in the manner Ferrari did last year really hurt, but looking at their form so far it seems they have put it behind them. They haven’t let it get them down and show a massive hunger strike back.
This season has seen a restructuring of the team. Some may say it was a knee-jerk reaction, but these changes had been coming for a while after previous shortcomings. The Abu Dhabi disaster just reinforced that need for change.
McLaren’s Pat Fry is now the team’s chief engineer and Ferrari have also hired Red Bull’s Neil Martin. Martin was head of Red Bull’s strategy division.
These two appointments add a lot of value to an already talented team with huge resources. Stefano Domenicali will hope that they cure a few of the weaknesses Ferrari has demonstrated in the last few years. Tactics is the main void that hasn’t yet been filled since Ross Brawn left the team.
In recent times Ferrari has been the most reliable team when it comes to making competitive cars. This is one of the reasons Fernando Alonso joined the team in the first place.
Many commented that Ferrari’s new car didn’t look that different to last year’s when it launched back in January. This is very unlike McLaren who went all out to do something different.
There is no spectacular innovation on Ferrari’s car but it appears to be functioning extremely well, and is doing the job.
This season isn’t just about outright pace. With the high degradation rate of the tyres, it’s looking after the tyres efficiently which is going to decide the outcome of races.
Historically Ferrari has always been stronger in races, than over a single lap. They are clearly focusing on trying to beat and out-think Red Bull when it comes to races even if they don’t start qualify in pole position.
At the moment it’s looking like Ferrari have gone in the right direction, and have pitched things perfectly.
They have been quick throughout winter testing, and are clearly the second best team at least. After the first couple of tests it looked like Red Bull was comfortably ahead.
After the recent Barcelona tests it now looks like they are right there with Red Bull, certainly over a race distance at least.
When Alonso did a race simulation in the last test the times looked extremely consistent, with only around two seconds worth of drop-off from the Pirelli tyres. Considering how quick the wear rate has been during testing, this is pretty strong from Ferrari.
The team’s reliability is also looking bulletproof. They have completed the most mileage of any team at nearly 7000km with minimal problems.
In Alonso they have the leader that the team were looking for, and lacked when Kimi Raikkonen was driving for them. He is the most complete driver on the grid. If Ferrari give him a car that’s reasonably competitive (even if its not the quickest) he will fight for the championship.
However the hope will be that Massa will be stronger and able to contribute more to the constructor’s points total.
Providing the team doesn’t succumb to the inevitable pressure that exists in a team as iconic as Ferrari, this could be a very memorable year for the team.
Mechanical grip: 9
Pit Wall: 7
Verdict: Ferrari is looking very strong at the moment and in an even fight with Red Bull I would back them to come out on top. The most important factor in mind though is how quickly the team can develop the car, as that was lacking at times last year.
Constructor’s championship prediction: 1st
Compiled by Daniel Chalmers