Ferarri not happy, but limited damage of first 4 races

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It comes as no surprise that things aren’t hunky dory at Maranello these days. In the team’s assessment of the first four flyaway races, Ferrari admits as much but also claims to have limited the expected damage — read, lack of points — thus far in the 2012 Formula 1 season.

“A first cycle of four races came to an end yesterday and so we can make a very early first assessment,” Team Principal Stefano Domenicali told the team’s website. “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.”

What I think goes unsaid there is that Alonso, and Ferrari, are the beneficiaries of there being no dominant driver this season. Imagine if Sebastian Vettel was sitting on 90-odd points instead of 53. Alonso’s 43 would be looking a little more sketchy.

Domenicali goes on, focusing on the last two races: China and Bahrain.

“In both races, Fernando gave his all and managed to get all the potential out of the car,” Domenicali said. “The team worked well: 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 has also reacted in a positive fashion to the initial difficulties and I am sure the fact he has finally managed to end his scoreless run in terms of points will give him confidence for the forthcoming races. 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.”

Hey! Nice for Felipe Massa to get a mention. Nothing like reacting in a positive fashion to secure your F1 seat for years to come.

The team, of course, is not going to sit back and let things continue to slide. After all, it isn’t HRT!

“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,” Stefano said. “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.”

“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. 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.”

Whether they will is the big question.

Also note, more talk of the tires.

I don’t want to leave you Tifosi (OK, at this point, is that just Todd? I don’t think Frantic even is still a Ferrari fan at this point) too down in the dumps. Here’s Ferrari’s final, positive spin on things:

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.) Although the F2012 has shown itself to be less competitive than the F10 and the I50 Italia when compared to its rivals, Fernando is still very much in the race for the title. Of course, the Spaniard is the first to be hoping for a step up in quality in the short term, as indeed does Felipe: it is a wish they share with “Ferraristi” everywhere and everyone at Maranello is working hard to achieve it.

Is that how the team translates Tifosi? Why even translate it?

My sense is Ferrari has not been exactly expert on upgrades during the past few years. Alonso’s driving seems to have been the difference-maker (of sorts). Anyone expecting the team to keep pace?

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