Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali believes that this year’s car, the F138, must be on a par with its competitors from the outset in order to give the Maranello based squad their best chance of winning their first Formula One Championship since 2007.
Speaking at the launch of the car at Ferrari HQ today, Domenicali says that they must make amends for a slow start last year, which cost them Championship points in the early stages of the season, and hit the ground running in order to compete with McLaren and Red Bull.
“The key objective that we must have is of immediately delivering a competitive car to our drivers,” Domenicali acknowledged. “Unfortunately in recent years we have at the beginning of the winter not been able to be right on top of what we are doing. I don’t think we can expect a car that is much faster than the others – this would be fantastic. We have to keep our feet on the ground and have a car that is equal to our competition.”
Despite a poor start to the season, performance wise, Ferrari came very close to claiming the Drivers’ World Championship with Fernando Alonso last year, having led a large proportion of the season and finally ending the year just three points off Sebastian Vettel. And although they held this lead, it was more a case of others having reliability issues, rather than Ferrari producing the fastest car on the grid.
Alonso agrees with Domenicali and believes that we will not see a reoccurrence of seven different winners in as many races, and his team will need to be fighting for victories from Melbourne through to Sao Paulo.
“It will be very difficult to repeat what we saw last year with seven different winners from the first seven races,” said Alonso. “That was a one off. With things a bit more stabilised, the top teams emerged at the end of last season, so I think highly there will be two or three teams who will win the majority of the race.” He added: “We need to be one of them.”
Alonso is most likely correct in his presumption of a more stable field, as this year brings relatively minor changes in design rules to what we saw in 2012. With this being the case a slip-up from any of the leading teams could see them suffer a larger points deficit then we saw during the mixed up early phase of last year.
The F138 will have its first track outing at Jerez next week at the hands of Felipe Massa and development driver, Pedro de la Rosa. Alonso will take part at the second pre-season test in Barcelona.