Domenicali: Ferrari in crucial period
Team chief says period before the next race "very important"
Last Updated: 24/04/12 2:54pm
Ferrari: Want to give their drivers a car to challenge
Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali has described the period before the next race in Spain as crucial for the Maranello team as they attempt to transform the performance of the F2012.
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Rain-affected conditions in Malaysia aside, Formula 1's most successful team struggled to match the leading outfits on outright pace in dry conditions throughout the opening four flyaway rounds, and therefore forced to engage in what the team consistently referred to as "damage limitation".
Fernando Alonso's relentless efforts, including his stunning win at Sepang, and the general unpredictable nature of the season so far means the team have actually headed back to Europe unexpectedly within 10 points of the lead in the Drivers' Championship.
Domenicali though is aware that Ferrari can't continue to rely on their current level of competitiveness to sustain a title push and therefore says it is vital that in the next two weeks - a period which includes a three-day test at Mugello - the team make significant development gains, both in the factory and on the track.
"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," he told Ferrari's official website.
"We must try and make the most of every minute available to us to increase the performance of the F2012."
Domenicali also echoed the thoughts of rival Team Principals in describing understanding tyre management as being crucial to the outcome of races this season.
"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," the Italian added.
"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."
The Italian admits he would have "struggled to believe it" if someone had told him on the eve of the season-opener in Australia that Alonso would be just 10 points off the championship pace after four races, and now says the team's engineers "are working day and night" to give both the Spaniard and team-mate Felipe Massa a much more competitive package.
Domenicali also revealed that work was underway at Maranello to address some of the more fundamental problems in the team's operational methods: "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 at first hand and it is vital to the future of the Scuderia. Formula 1 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."