Ferrariâ€™s victory in Sundayâ€™s Korean Grand Prix was a celebratory event for the Italian team but there is no question that the win is a gift from Red Bull. The Austrian team suffered a rare dual DNF on Sunday and Ferrari was present to pick up the points. Red Bullâ€™s Sebastian Vettel was poised to win the grand prix after his points-leading teammate, Mark Webber, spun on his own volition.
No one at Ferrari are getting too excited about leaving Korea as the driverâ€™s championship leader; Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali is making sure of that during the teams post-victory debrief:
â€œletâ€™s keep our feet on the ground, because we have not actually won anything yet.
â€œNow comes the hard part and thatâ€™s something we must bear in mind,â€ said Domenicali in exhorting the crew. â€œOver the next three weeks, we have to do everything perfectly: reliability, the work at the track and at home and preparation for the race. These are things we are well used to, but it still merits repetition. I have always said that this year, keeping a cool head is what will make the difference and we must not get carried away with the words of praise, just as we did not get downhearted by the criticism in the most difficult moments: we should leave unguarded enthusiasm at the door.â€
No one likes a Ferrari victory as much as Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo but even he remains cool and realistic:
â€œFirst of all, I want to congratulate and thank you all, because this great fight-back is down to you,â€ said Montezemolo. â€œIn these last few races, we have seen Ferrari working perfectly, both at the track and at home. This is the image of the team I like to see projected to the outside world, one of a team of competent and capable people, proud to represent a winning side of Italy, which was clearly visible in the faces of those you who stood beneath the podium on Sunday. I was happy to see Fernando once again proving to be very strong and focused, not putting a foot wrong and I was also pleased to see Felipe back on the podium, going into his home race, where I have no doubt, he will enjoy a great weekend.
â€œWe were not useless before and we have not become genii now: we are just a team that never surrenders,â€ continued the President. â€œHowever, we have not actually won anything yet. I have said this to all of you before: each one of us must aim for pole in our own roles, going about our business in a level headed fashion, with concentration and determination, then we can add up the figures in Abu Dhabi.â€
In short, they know that Red Bull is faster. They know that Brazil and Abu Dhabi are Red Bull circuits that should see Webber and Vettel going great guns for victory with very little to stop them. Itâ€™s about points and podium for Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and if they can keep realistic, they may have a shot. The key, as Paul Charsley said on Podcast #182, is Felipe Massa. The Brazilian will be at his home race and it is crucial that he play the best wing-man role he possibly can if Ferrari are to have a real chance at winning the title.
Does Massa have the pace? He doesnâ€™t need to just finish in the top ten. He needs to be on Alonsoâ€™s tail. He needs to beat Webber or Vettel and keep McLarenâ€™s Lewis Hamilton at bay. He plays a critical role and if he is still harboring ill-will from Hockenheimâ€™s team orders issue, this could come back to haunt the team. What is realistic? Can Alonso keep all the plates spinning and pull out another title? No doubt that Webberâ€™s self-induced disaster in Korea was bad but it is far from a season-ending crash. He is still very much in the catbird seat.