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How close are Ferrari now?
How close are Ferrari now?
Posted By:   |  25 May 2009   |  8:23 am GMT  |  56 comments

Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix saw confirmation that Ferrari are back in business. Kimi Raikkonen qualified within hundredths of a second of Jenson Button with only two laps less fuel on board and in the race the Scuderia got its first double points haul of the season, with Raikkonen third and Felipe Massa fourth.

Barcelona 18.
On top of that, Massa set the fastest race lap, with 1min 15.154, four hundredths of a second faster than Jenson Button’s fastest lap in the Brawn and two tenths faster than the Red Bull of Mark Webber.

It is tempting to say that Ferrari has now moved into position as the second best car in the field, ahead of the Red Bull, but I’m not sure that will be the case everywhere, particularly the next two races in Turkey and Silverstone where the Red Bull will stretch its legs on the long fast corners.

But there is no doubt that Ferrari has made the most progress of any team since the start of the season. They have also got on top of the reliability issues which cost them at the start of the season. It is too early to say whether they have completely fixed their operational problems, because it was only the last race in Spain where they misjudged qualifying with Raikkonen’s car.

But the management changes they made after the first couple of races, where Luca Baldisseri was moved back to a factory based position, to improve the links between the R&D and manufacturing departments at base and the race team on the road, seem to be working.

It looks like it is too late to have any effect on the world championship, with both Ferrari drivers over 40 points behind Jenson Button. But it will certainly put more than a veneer of respectability on their 2009 campaign.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali was moderately pleased with progress, “At least two cars scored points, that was a very important step. For me the most important thing is that we show that the people at home the team is totally committed to the job. It is not easy at this moment when you hear all around that to cut dramatically and that we can lose hundreds of places of work. So that is why it is important to thank the people at home that have worked flat out to recover the performance. We have showed in Spain and again here that what we are doing is going in the right direction. We need to stay focussed on our job and that in Turkey we need to improve again.”

Stefano’s point about the motivation of the staff at the factory is a good one. It’s a bit like the people at Honda over the winter, working flat out with deep concerns that they were perhaps a day away from being made redundant. Not being forced into a dramatic cull of staff in one go is one point on which all the teams are agreed.

Asked where the Ferrari is still lacking speed Stefano said, “I think downforce is the most important thing that we need to recover. This will help a lot in high speed corners. In Turkey we will have another step. We are pretty sure that our competitors will do a step again.”

Felipe Massa agreed with his boss’ assessment, “I think we are still missing a little bit of downforce. So we are still missing slightly a little bit of grip on the car. So, for me they have a little bit more grip than us, and they can work a little bit better on the tyres, so they can work a little bit better on the qualifying to prepare the car in the right way.

“Sometimes in the race we show a great pace, in the conditions you fight, but we are still missing a little bit more downforce and a bit of grip. We need to use better the tyres, especially in qualifying, and also when it is necessary.

“I think maybe we need a couple of races to be sure that we are the second strongest team. For the moment I think it is too early to say – Red Bull sometimes they are very, very strong and sometimes they are a little bit less.”

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Re above comments about Massa’s media statements. I don’t know how you can read into those statements that he is trying to carve out a position for himself as team leader. How has he claimed that, even implicitly? All drivers refer to the team effort, not just number ones, and all, when asked, will say that as a team, themselves included, they will need to work harder. Those are the basic kinds of things Massa has said this year, and I for one don’t see that they should be construed as a claim of team leadership. It is nothing to do with mind games or the like, Massa is not cynical enough for that.

In any case, if he were to claim leadership, I’d say he’d have a case. Kimi’s aloof nature and #2 performances for the last year and a half have given ample reason to consider Massa as #1 there. Last Sunday was the first time Kimi beat Massa in a head to head in a race since China last year. (I’m aware Kimi was screwed in Malaysia, but Massa had been too, in qualifying, so not a fair assessment, and yes I’m aware the reverse happened in Bahrain). Therefore I have to say the above comments seem very harsh on Massa.


Go Kimi! A win in Turkey is all Ferrari needs!


If a Red Bull driver is going to have a crack at the championship, they will be praying that Ferrari is about to fire. With recent improvements to the Red Bull and suitable circuits they have a reasonable prospect of being the quickest. So they must win the next couple of races and Ferrari must be behind them, not the Brawn’s. And finally as a proud Aussie all I can hope is that the new aero add ons will allow Webber run his preferred setup not Seb’s.


Ferrari might very well be fighting for the win come Turkey. They were fast in Barcelona with their new updates, and as the saying goes if you are fast in Barcelona it means that the car’s aerodynamics is sound. They will also have their their real DD in Turkey, it is obvious so far that their updates are working. According to Domenicali they have already gained more then a second, that is a huge gain for 2 races.

It was actually a much bigger surprise to see that Ferrari were also fast in Monaco. The Ferrari’s aren’t usually fast in Monaco, they are always the second best team here. So all of this bodes quite well for the upcoming races. And on top of that Massa is very good in Turkey and Kimi is very good at Silverstone, they might be fighting for the win. It will be nice to see someone else on the top step for a change.

It will also be interesting to see how much Red Bull have gained with their new diffuser package.


If Ferrari continue like this they will be dominating like Brawn at the end of the season.
I think around Budapest they will be beating them,
Massa for big podium in turkey.
4 in a row james!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


has raikonnen woken up or does he just enjoy monaco? i always rated him highly and loved his style with regard to teh media, and he looked quite pleased to be on the podium.

massa is pushing him hard, as a driver that i never rated, who was dire when he first joined ferrari, he is now clearly a top driver. i still can’t work out quite how kimi has reacted to that


Massa’s fastest lap was due to him cutting the chicane, which he kept doing until getting a warning from Charlie Whitehead. Jenson’s smooth driving are going to win him this championship this year.


I think Ferrari would benefit from pensioning off Kimi and spending the money on improving the car.

Thanks for the Monaco coverage on Twitter. Missing you in the commentary but you are doing a brilliant job in your new analyst role.


I’m really happy that Brawn have managed to do so well this season, but have to admit I am totally disappointed by F1 this season. We were told that the rule changes would promote overtaking and lead to better racing, but we’ve had race after race of processional boredom.

Couple that with the lack of testing (Webber said Red B were using the Monaco as an extended test session) which has prevented teams really developing their cars and therefore catching the Brawns, and the dreary politicking and you have got a season that is a real turn off for many people.

I have seen every F1 race for more seasons than I care to remember, but have got to the point where I think I will just sit the rest of this season out in the hope of coming back to the sport next year refreshed. I need a sabbatical to save me from being turned off F1 (a sport I truly love and have had some involvement with) forever.


Ferrari were quick in Barcelona, they overtook a lot of teams. If your quick in barcelona your generally quick in most place. I think Ferrari will be a weapon come Spa, and Brawn will be consolidating. Ferrari is good on its tyres, like the brawn there only missing a little bit of downforce compared to the brawn. Mechanically there sound, better then the redbull, slightly less then the Brawn.

I think there is about 8 months development time difference between the Brawn and Ferrari. Given were Ferrari is compared to Mclaren, it is remarkable.

Turkey has fast flowing corners like barcelona, i recon ferrari will be quick there. I wouldn’t be suprised if Massa pushes button all the way. Kers will be a huge advantage there especially after turn 8. We always see good overtaking moves there.

See how jenson goes with a challanger up his clacker the whole race. Only time he had a serious challanger was Sepang in the wet. Hopefully the next race is dry and all car are comparable in terms of performance, (2 tenths apart in stead of 1/2 a second.



About the Ferrari performance I think we’ve to wait for a couple more of races, Monaco is a very special one.

But, James what about the unfulfilled promises about this year formula 1:
– More competivity: We’re not complaining about the boring Formula 1 because the winner team is Brawn Gp and not Ferrari or McLaren, but it’s the same: one team dominates ant that’s all.
-More fight in races: We’re in the same situation in the pasts years: no pass in the races, no fight, just an strategy fight to pass the other cars in the box.

Regards from Argentina


We wont know till turkey,monaco is the wrong place to compare cars always has been.The only way you can get a good comparison is if the brawns aren’t on pole and in the pack. They are running at the front clean air no pressure if they come back and are fighting for there places then we will get a better idea.


Someone quoted the independent article re the decrease in revenue for the local economy in monaco this race season

Sadly its a bit of a rubbish example as we are in a recession and its got to be the most expensive race on the calender bar flying all the way round the world

All this arguing about bringing costs down so that more teams can join the sport and sponsors can survive the down turn
BUT mr mosley and bernie seem to have totally missed the point about the sport becoming ro expensive for spectators…
Surely that should have been the primary focus of any recession baed budget caps. But then that would mean a cut in their own income first right??
I care more that I can afford to watch a sport I have enjoyed for years live than I do about whether farrari spend 40million or 40billion on a car. Ultimately they have to justify that to their accountants.

Oh and anyone else see the pre race grid walk by james old collague
I quote mr e (loosely)
“Nooo this is terrible the same person has won the first 4/5 races that’s not what we wanted”

Ok yes button has but it was hardly predictable was is? I mean whoever put money on that one way back before christmas can afford to buy me a drink
And who is this ‘we’?
We (the public) like the underdog runing away and winning after watching how his career has gone from high to low, stayed low, poked its head up a bit, got a lot worse and then suddenly this!
We like that the big boys have been caught off guard, ok farrari don’t like it but its been funny to watch them sulk and throw their toys out of the pram
My advice to him is to stop meddling and naff off to continue entertaining miss halliwell! 🙂


Ecclestone canvassing support to get rid of Max, because attendances are down?

That’s a bit ironic. Since it is the utterly cynical, [moderated] short-sighted commercial exploitation of the sport that has seen interest driven away from the sport.

Young people and families have been priced out of Formula 1, and have been since the early part of this decade.

This bubble strategy to maximise income is now starting to bear fruit. The young kids who’d have gone to races in their youth, and grow to love the sport in Adulthood, never got indoctrinated to love the sport the way those of us born in the 80s and earlier were.


I don’t think Ferrari were as far back as a lot of people thought technically. At the races before the spanish GP i put ferrari as the fourth best car on the grid. It was just their reliability issues and strategic mistakes that made the car look really bad.


Well James, you’ve not really backed up what you said on the other thread, how Ferrari would soon be in front of Brawn, but thanks for addressing it.

I find it curious that everyone is happy to say that McL are not as good as they looked in Monaco ‘cos it’s, well, Monaco, but no-one is saying that about Ferrari. I suspect the jury is still out. One thing that Brawn have which no-one else have is, of cource, Brawn. Their strategies this year have been so good, and Jenson is so good at managing his tyres (is this the difference between him and Rubens ?). It’s a pretty class act all round.

Howard Hughes

From today’s Independent:

‘Ecclestone, under significant pressure from his partners at CVC, canvassed paddock opinion over the weekend as to whether Mosley should stand down. Having seen the crowd figures and business ventures such as hotels, apartment rentals, and restaurant takings make a serious nosedive in the Principality, all parties are now hearing alarms bells tolling menacingly.’

That’s interesting – have you any insight on this James?


I hope Ferrari have not found form due to their behaviour in acting like spoilt brats when the likes of Brawn out thought them with the new regulations. Ferrari dont like it when they are beaten on the track and always cry foul when they are. I wish nothing but bad luck to them.


Yep, Ferrari are back in the mix… Turkey and Silverstone will be a battle between Brawn, Red Bull and Ferrari. I think we’ll see Toyota perform better than in the past 2 races and I hope that McLaren up their game too, with their continual development path… bringing in more potential winners.

I think Rubens will be very dissapointed to have not beaten Jenson in Spain and Monaco, where he had been faster in all sessions, bar qualifying (where it counts, I s’pose). His aggressive start to get past Kimi, put him right on Jensons tail, with more fuel on-board and thus hoping to get him at the first stop. I’m sure he was cussin’ his luck again as his rears went off in his first stint.

The championship is far from over… 1 DNF for Jenson and the pack will close in. However, with others starting to take points from the contenders (and young Seb hitting the barriers), it bodes well for Jenson.

I’m sure he (Jenson) would love to win the British GP but I reckon we’ll see Rubens doing all he can to beat him there (it is after all, normally a good circuit for Rubiniho).

But, for sure, Ferrari are back in the mix… which is great, for “the show”.


I too agree that it’s too late to say Ferrari are back on form, as it’s their first decent points haul of the season, and Monaco is a unique track, with unique demands.

It could just be that the Ferrari is suited to slow speed cornering, which could be a reason why the Toyota’s we’ve seen, which are really quick, were slow, as they aren’t good with slow speed cornering, but are excellent with high speed corners. A similar argument could be had with the Red Bull cars, that they are good with high speed cornering.

What is clear though, is that the Brawns are good at both.


Yes it was certainly a relief to see the Ferrari’s secure 3rd & 4th.

I just hope they can build from that, and starting winning races… they have a mountain to climb to win or even come second in the constructors championship.

The other teams aren’t standing still – so to win they must improve the car twice as much as the other teams… not an easy job half way through the season!!!

Let the spirit of Enzo Ferrari guide the team… 🙂

Steven Pritchard

I’m not yet convinced by Red Bull’s Double Diffuser, it wil be interesting to see in Turkey how useful it is for them, and whether it conflicts with their pre-double diffuser design. Turkey will be an interesting race.

It seems Brawn have solved Barrichellos brake stability issues, only to create some sort balance issue for Button. I seem to remember a similar situation during Honda’s ’06 season. However, Buttons fuelled pace and tyre management qualities should mean that he will keep abreast of Barrichello during the next few races.

Thomas in Adelaide

Did Matha cut any corners when posting the aforementioned fastest lap?


It’s ominous. Regardless of what everyone says I still think the championship isn’t over yet. But Brawn have made a great start, and I’m hoping Ross still has a trick or too up his sleeve. Go Jense!

Charlie F Smith

I’m surprised by the lack of attention paid to the subtext of a lot of what drivers say, and particularly Massa’s relationship with the media. The Ferrari drivers are clearly under the most pressure from all sides. Heikki’s been poor at Mclaren for 2 years and nobody really questions him, but the Ferrari drivers are always under question despite both being really pretty damn good.

The media don’t pick up on Massa’s comments. I think he plays up to the fact that Kimi is not loquacious and the fact that the media like to go at him for it. This season Massa has quasi-claimed to be leading the team in the knowledge that Kimi wouldn’t care about answering that sort of a question. Yesterday he claimed to have been able to beat Kimi (which may have been true, but he also forgot to mention that if he was held up by Button, then Kimi was held up by Barrichello in the first stint).

I definitely get the impression from much of what he says that he is keen to influence the media’s (at the moment) negative portrayal of Kimi, and I’m surprised that they don’t pick up on it. Frankly I think it’s a little underhand. Perhaps you disagree? I was wondering what your thoughts were on this and whether you could write a piece on it? Obviously at Mclaren in 2007 there was a serious issue with this sort of thing, but I often sense quite a lot of subtle infighting in driver comments, particularly at Ferrari. Though Barrichello’s an interesting case this year too.


In my opinion they still missing some extra in terms of strategic decisions. I mean they should have considered to start Kimi on super soft in order to get the firts place up to the first corner, that was their only chance for a win. Wrong tyer choices have been very costy for Ferrari recently, they should put much more effort into that area as well. Also, Kimi lost a few seconds in the first pit stop. They hardly got an error-free and clean weekend.

Howard Hughes

Man, that Stefano Domenicali has gotta be one of the most likeable blokes in the pit lane. He’s like a friendly chipmunk – when you see him you just wanna pinch his cheeks and go brrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


I think it is really to early to make any calls on this. I find it difficult to believe that Ferrari have suddenly got their act together after numerous and varied mistakes and reliability issues this year.

Not to mention the fact that Monaco could easily deceive to flatter their car. If Lewis had managed to keep out of the barriers and potentially stuck his car on the front couple of rows would we be talking about a McLaren revival?


There’s a fantastic interview question and response from Michael Schumacher after winning his 2003 title. It really summarises the Ferrari ethos and it’s why I love Ferrari so much. It also captures why they have never finished lower than second in the constructors in over a decade and a bit (barring the 2005 abberation).


“Q: Well, you did finish in the points, in eighth place, and you did secure your sixth world championship, your ninth with Ferrari including the Constructors’ championship. Can you give us some final thoughts on the team and on those achievements?
Michael Schumacher: First of all, I think it is very strange for me because most of my championships I have won with a victory and here and now today I am winning a championship with eighth position which is last of the points, but still winning the championship which is a mixed emotion. But what the team has achieved is just fantastic. If you see what has happened at Hockenheim, in Budapest, how many people wrote us off, how many people wrote things about us, outspoken things. And here we are, we’re back. We never give up, we’re always there, we always fight, and I think that’s one of the big strengths of the Ferrari team. Everybody in Ferrari is that way. It’s just a huge big family and we are all proud to be a part of it.”


Ferrari are back I think, again, despite the outspoken things said about the drivers and the team. In Turkey both drivers will have the lighter chassis, the real mcoy double decker – and of course Massa is a monster around Turkey.

Any fightback might be in vain but for the good of the sport I think it’s essential someone takes the fight to Button and Brawn. And who better to do that than Ferrari.

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