Stefano Domenicali and Fernando Alonso say Ferrari will be 'there' if Red Bull falter
Ferrari use example of Webber DNF to suggest anything can happen
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 22/09/13 7:19pm
Stefano Domenicali says Mark Webber's late retirement in the Singapore GP underlines why Ferrari must keep putting themselves in position to profit from any Red Bull slip-ups on Sebastian Vettel's car if they're to have any hope of the world title.
Although Fernando Alonso finished second for the third straight race at Marina Bay on Sunday as Ferrari made up for what until then had been a difficult weekend by rolling the strategy dice, the Spaniard once more finished runner-up to championship rival Vettel.
Alonso's deficit to his perennial rival has now stretched to 60 points, and while Domenicali acknowledges Ferrari's challenge to bridge that gap is increasingly tough, he took some hope from the sight of the other Red Bull of Mark Webber pulling off the road on the final lap in a cloud of smoke.
While any hope of Vettel running into a series of problems himself over the final six races could be viewed as clutching at straws as the World Champion has only suffered one retirement in the last 20 grands prix, Domenicali is nonetheless aware that such twists of fate can occur.
"Unfortunately the Red Bull that finished the race was, if I may say, the wrong one," the Ferrari Team Principal told reporters.
"But of course in the sporting way, congratulations to him [Vettel] because he did a fantastic race, very easy, very clean. The only thing we have to do is try to stay there and being second, if there is an opportunity, as we always said, we will have it.
"Normally speaking without a problem to Vettel it's very difficult that we can fight for the championship, but you never know. What has happened today to Mark Webber at the last lap can happen to Sebastian and if it happens one or two times we are there. Never say never.
"It's very difficult but we will try."
If Domenciali's comments were tantamount to an admission that Ferrari were requiring snookers in the championship fight, Fernando Alonso's own remarks post-race underlined that the Scuderia have to rely on Red Bull dropping the ball between now and Brazil.
"Sebastian keeps increasing the gap - we need to be realistic with that and know we need to be lucky to fight for the championship," the Spaniard told Sky Sports F1.
"We have a 60-point deficit in the championship and we have a one-second deficit in the car. So if you put the two things together we need to be very, very lucky. But if this luck comes they need to know that we will be there because we will be second ready to take the opportunities."
Although hopes of a first Drivers' Championship since 2007 continue to slide with every passing Vettel victory, Domenicali says Ferrari can at least be pleased with the way they executed their strategy in Singapore after Alonso came from seventh on the grid to finish second.
"We were a little bit unfortunate because when we came out of the first stop we were behind Di Resta and we damaged a lot the tyres, so we decided to come in [under the Safety Car]," explained the Italian.
"Then, considering the situation, we had two options: either to attack and make the tyres last not until the end or to save the tyres as much as possible to arrive until the end, and that was the option we took.
"Lap-by-lap we were monitoring the situation and of course there is the trigger when you cannot go back to another [strategy] because otherwise you'll go back until the end [of the pack].
"So for sure the strategy today paid a good price and therefore I'm happy because sometimes you believe you take the wrong decision and you are criticised. But when you take the right decision with the right driver that is managing the tyres that is congratulations for us and the team."
With only two months of the season still to run, Domenicali admitted that only a small group of their Maranello workforce were still working on the current F138 car - although there were a still a few developments coming on stream for the forthcoming races.
He insisted, though, that Ferrari would continue to fight on to try and do something about Red Bull's superior pace.
"For sure at this stage it is clear that Vettel with Red Bull has a better package but what I will say from our side is that we will try to deliver on the track what is still on the pipeline," Domenicali added.
"But of course at home we are 99% dedicated to the 2014 car because it's a huge and complex project that is very important to be on top at the beginning of the season.
"So before we need to try to fight from what we have. We need to congratulate them [Red Bull] because they're doing an incredible job but we are pushing, we are still improving after what at the end of the day was a very difficult July.
"If we didn't lose some points at the beginning of the season the situation in the championship would have been different. So we need to stay there knowing that the line of our competitors is very high."