Ferrari: We’re working day and night to give our drivers a much better car
24 April, 2012
Apr.24 (PVM) After last year’s major reshuffle of the technical side of the Ferrari F1 team, president Luca di Montezemolo demanded that the team produce a world beater “out of the box” to tackle the 2012 season, and as a consequence the new technical team at Maranello produced the Ferrari F2012 which has turned out to be a ‘tractor’ of a Formula 1 car. This analogy might not sit well with the glamour team as arch (road car) rivals Lamborghini have roots in the tractor business, but few would deny that the ’012 car has failed to impress when compared with previous efforts from Maranello
Nevertheless with this marginally effective piece of kit at his disposal Fernando Alonso has muscled his way around the first four races, taking one unexpected win (Sepang) and, as the championship heads to Europe is fourth in the points standings – a mere ten points adrift of leader Sebastian Vettel – damage control very much achieved.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali reflected, “A first cycle of four races came to an end and so we can make a very early first assessment. Clearly we cannot be happy with the way our season began but, after the winter tests, we knew the first four races would be very tough. We managed to limit the damage, especially in the Drivers’ championship, in which Fernando Alonso is fifth, just ten points off the leader. However, it is equally clear that now we must step up a gear, right from the next race. Our engineers are well aware of this and are working day and night to give our drivers a much more competitive car than we have seen on track in these first four races.”
The team boss admits that based on their February testing form, where they stand right now is a bonus, “Honestly, if when setting out for Melbourne, it had been suggested we would be in this position with one of our drivers, I would have struggled to believe it.”
Felipe Massa has been massively overshadowed by Alonso, in the first four races, and in fact, generally since the Spaniard arrived at the Scuderia, at the start of 2010. Ferrari’s patience (and loyalty) to the Brazilian has been commendable while being seen by some as counter productive to the team.
Domenicali, who remains committed to Massa, explained, “Felipe has also reacted in a positive fashion to the initial difficulties and I am sure the fact [that] he has finally managed to end his scoreless run in terms of points will give him confidence for the forthcoming races.”
The word is that, since March, the team has building an ‘F2012B’ version of their current car, which in truth is a totally new car starting from scratch – hence the lack of updates for recent races – and that the next couple of weeks – testing at Mugello and round five in Barcelona – will be crucial to the team’s title ambitions. If this hugely ‘updated’ F2012 is another failure, there will be some serious questions asked from high up and Alonso, who has admirably towed the party line to date, will be forgiven a tantrum or two – the reds have yet to give him an optimum weapon to do his job.
On their website, Ferrari acknowledge, “The coming days will be very important, during which the primary objective will be to push as hard as possible on the development of the car: next week we have three days of testing at Mugello, but it’s not definite that all the updates planned for Barcelona will be seen then. We must try and make the most of every minute available to us to increase the performance of the F2012.”
Meanwhile (as we reported recently) there is a revolution going on behind closed doors at Maranello as Domenicali confirmed, “We are intensifying the process of changing our working procedures in all areas and, at the same time, we are strengthening our efforts in areas where we are weakest, such as aerodynamics. It’s a long term project and one that President Montezemolo is studying first hand and it is vital to the future of the Scuderia. F1 has changed so much these past few years and we have not always been up to speed with these changes. In this area too we need to step up a gear.”
“The theme for the start of this championship is that everyone was very closely matched: the statistics show that it’s been nine years since there have been four different winners in the first four races, but more than that, you have to go back 29 years to find the last time four different cars won,” mused Domenicali.
“Tyres seem to be the most important factor: understanding their behaviour in order to settle on a strategy for the race and also for qualifying, as we saw last weekend in Bahrain, pinpointing the right moment for the pit stops, knowing how best to set a time on a single flying lap, based on the track evolution are all crucial elements in the fight for the top places. I expect that in Barcelona there will be many teams all bringing significant updates on track and we will have to do a better job than the others,” added the Ferrari team boss.
The team loves statistics and duly pointed out: “Statistics from the last three years show that the ten point deficit is the smallest Alonso has had to the leader of the Drivers’ table at this point in the season: it was eleven in 2010 (60 for Button, 49 for Fernando) and no less than 52 last year (93 Vettel, 41 the Spaniard.)”
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