Domenicali: Ferrari need to stay cool
Team Principal insists more title twists will come
By Mike Wise in Yeongam. Last Updated: October 14, 2012 4:42pm
Stefano Domenicali says Ferrari "need to stay very, very cool" in the final four races of the season after Fernando Alonso finally lost his World Championship lead in Korea on Sunday.
The Spaniard has been out front for most of the season thanks to three victories and a string of consistent performances elsewhere.
However, he was finally reeled in by Sebastian Vettel at the Korea International Circuit after the defending Champion scored his third victory in as many races.
Consolation for Alonso came in the shape of a third-place finish behind Vettel and Mark Webber but the latters' one-two further confirmed Red Bull's recent ominous pace.
Domenicali insists the Scuderia can still improve the pace of their own F2012 car, however, and reckons there is also enough scope during the last four races for another reversal of fortune.
Citing the example of McLaren, who fell behind Ferrari in the constructors' standings after a dismal race in Korea, Domenicali said: "Let's see what is going to happen at the end. For example, one of our main competitors seems to be very, very strong up until yesterday.
"And today in the race, they had a different pace with problems we don't know. Things can turn up in a different way very quickly.
"For us, the objective is to deliver Fernando the best car that we have in terms of, first of all, reliability.
"Second, (we have) to make sure what we have is the right choice in terms of package. And third, to make sure that in the next races - as I'm sure Red Bull will try to do - to bring the developments that will let the car do the right step in the right direction. Because the Red Bull we've seen in the last couple of races was very, very strong.
"The Championship is very, very long. I don't want to hear anything on the Championship because it will be a very tough and sporting challenge and a fight right up until the end. Of that, I'm pretty sure."
Although Red Bull scored a one-two finish, both Vettel and Webber suffered problems with tyre wear, particularly towards the end of the race.
Worried Red Bull engineers told them over the radio to manage their rubber, with Domenicali suggesting that the outcome could well have been different on another day.
"We knew it was marginal. In fact, we were very surprised to see one driver that did only one stop (Williams driver Pastor Maldonado) because we knew the situation was quite marginal," he said.
"Our concern was not as high as what we heard Red Bull saying to their drivers on the radio. But they were very good because they finished the race with no problem.
"These sorts of things show the limits we are fighting against. So this time it was perfect; so maybe another time it will be different. So that's why we need to stay focused on our job and to deliver on our side the maximum that we can.
Domenicali hopes Ferrari can find at least 0.2 seconds in the closing four races if they are to mount a last-ditch challenge to Red Bull.
"I think that, realistically, that's the gap. But I would like to find a little bit more, because we know that they are very strong in the single lap," he said.
"We've seen that when you start on the first row the situation is much, much easier: you can do the race that you want, you can do the right pace, you can control everything. That's the target that has to be clear to our engineers."
The race also brought another strong performance from Felipe Massa, who finished fourth behind Alonso.
Indeed, the Brazilian lapped faster than Alonso at times during the race and was ordered to slow down at one point.
Domenicali admitted the decision was taken to minimise Alonso's points loss to Vettel. But he also dropped a tantalising hint that Massa is about to be retained by the team.
"I'm very happy, because he did an excellent race. I have to say he's been doing a really great job for the last couple of races, this is really very promising for the end of the season," the smiling Team Principal said.
"If I want to anticipate the next question, that I'm sure someone would like to ask, very soon you will know what our position will be in that respect."
Of the question to let Massa race Alonso, Domenicali added: "Yes it's true, we thought about it. But it would have been much more complicated if he'd have been in front.
"If you look at the difference in points, if we'd done that it would have been much more difficult to manage the situation."