Stefano Domenicali is cautiously confident about Ferrari's chances in 2014
Team boss adds Kimi Raikkonen has returned more "mature"
By William Esler. Last Updated: 12/02/14 4:01pm
Team boss Stefano Domenicali is cautiously confident about Ferrari's chances in 2014 after getting "off on the right foot" in Jerez.
The Scuderia completed 251 laps at the first test in southern Spain - the second highest number of any team - ensuring that the Italian outfit gained valuable mileage over rivals Red Bull who managed just 21 laps.
Ferrari have struggled for correlation between their wind tunnel and what was happening on track in recent seasons and were forced to switch their development work to Toyota's Cologne facility whilst theirs was updated in Maranello. Thus another positive for the team is that this longstanding issue appears to have been resolved with Domenicali confirming that the wind tunnel and on-track figures tallied in Jerez.
"I am always cautious, not through a fear of saying what I think, but because I am well aware how quickly things change in this sport," he told the team's official website.
"In Jerez, we saw the F14 T get off on the right foot, responding well to changes, while the basic data corresponds to the parameters established in the wind tunnel and there were no bad surprises. Clearly there is still much to do because it's impossible to start with a perfect car in a season featuring so many changes."
Ferrari were pleased with data gathered in Spain
However, despite the positives from Spain, Domenicali thinks it will not be until the final Bahrain test that the true pecking order becomes apparent.
"The start of the championship will be full of unknown quantities and it is far too early to make any sort of prediction," he added.
"I think we will start to understand a bit more only at the last Bahrain test. My optimism is based on the fact we know which areas need working on: caution is always a good approach, but that doesn't mean the people working on this project lack the commitment or the will to show our competitors how well we can do things at Ferrari.
"I have to say that what pleased me the most was the attitude of the team. Everyone is united in tackling the problems and in trying to resolve them, aware that the challenge ahead is both demanding and exciting."
Much has been made of how Ferrari's all-star driver line-up of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen - a notable move away from the team's policy of a clear number one and two driver - will work in 2014, with some predicting fireworks between the pair. However, Domenicali says all decisions taken will be for the good of the team rather than favouring either driver.
"It was a rational choice, based on the need to have an expert driver pairing, with the one aim of it doing well for Ferrari. I hope the track will show that it was the right choice," explained the Team Principal.
"How will we manage them? Decisions are always carefully considered, but they always have the same aim, which is that the sporting decisions are taken to reach the team's goals, as the interest of the team always comes before all else. Decisions we have taken in the past have always been reached in this spirit.
Kimi Raikkonen: Back in a Ferrari
"I have found a more mature Kimi, more closely knit to the team. He comes to Maranello almost every week to work with the engineers. He knows his worth and he knows what team he has returned to and what challenges he will face, having a world champion like Alonso alongside him for whom he has respect and he will have to adapt to working with him.
"Fernando is extremely intelligent and has managed to stay ahead in whatever car he has driven. He has an ability to interpret the race and to read it in an amazing way and I think he will make the most of the new regulations, which will require some stages of the race to be managed in a different way. We feel close to him partly because it was such a long time ago that we decided to invest in him."
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.