Ferrari managers fly home for emergency meeting
Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari managers fly home for emergency meeting
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Apr 2011   |  2:46 pm GMT  |  149 comments

Despite the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend being back to back with Malaysia, the three main managers of Ferrari’s F1 team have made a 48 hour return trip to Italy this week to try to resolve some issues relating to the performance of the cars.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali, technical director Aldo Costa and his deputy Pat Fry made the two day round trip to investigate why the car is not performing the way the simulation tools say it should. The problem is particularly clear in qualifying. Downforce is central to this. Massa said on the eve of the Malaysian race that they are not getting the best from the front wing and its clear that their rivals are also getting more from the exhaust blown diffuser. But the problem is also more basic than that.

Wind tunnel problems (Photo:Ferrari)

Speaking on Ferrari’s website Domenicali said, “We’ll try to have something ready for China but we know that first we’ll have to work out why the figures in the wind tunnel do not correspond with those we have seen on the racetrack. If we don’t have a clear picture of things here, we’ll have to approach the development of the car from a different angle.”

The background story here is that Ferrari updated their windtunnel from 50-60 percent last year and the correlation between tunnel and track isn’t there at the moment. They spent a lot of time on Friday in Malaysia doing aero tests instead of setting up the car – time they never made back.

Wind tunnel correlation problems are nothing new in F1; Renault had them a couple of years ago as have plenty of other teams. Until they are understood and rectified, it’s very hard for a team to move forward on development. And with strong rivals like Red Bull, McLaren, Renault and even Mercedes likely to make big gains in the coming weeks and months, you can see the urgency to solve the problem.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo raised the bar at the launch of the car in January when he said, “This year we have to win”. After Sunday’s race he said, “I am definitely not satisfied with the way the season has begun, but I have complete faith in the people here who know how to react when the situation is tough.

“I reckon that will be difficult as I don’t think Ferrari can turn it around in the space of a week.”

Ferrari were much stronger in the race than they were in qualifying, where Alonso was 9/10ths off Vettel’s Red Bull and 8/10ths off Hamilton’s McLaren. Massa was 1.3 seconds off the pole. The concern is also the Renault; Nick Heidfeld split the Ferraris in qualifying and with the Renault’s awesome starts and straight line speed, he threatens to be in front of them on the opening lap and hard to pass, unless they can keep him behind them on the grid.

But in the race, even if Vettel was cruising, the McLarens definitely weren’t and Alonso was giving them a hard time. Add in to that the fact that Alonso’s DRS rear wing wasn’t working and there is some encouragement for the team. Their strategy decisions were pretty sound too, even if they had some problems with the execution of the pit stops.

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Well,if its correct that their race pace is ok but their qualy isn’t, then what is the difference?

Fuel load, of course, and… the DRS! Its always ‘on’ for qualy. So maybe everyone *else just has a better ‘open’ wing than Ferrari?


Ferrari’s race pace seemingly has been quite top notch for the past few seasons, but it’s not use having great race pace if they can’t get the grid positions in the first place to build solidly upon.

I would also find it worrying if indeed it was the front wing that was causing the problems given (with my relative lack of knowledge) the front wing would have been an evolutionary thing from 2010 whilst the rear would have been slightly revolutionary with the ban of the double diffusers.

Albeit unless this is because the way the front wing is channeling the air under the car towards the diffuser is just not “compatible” with it then ok that explains it, but even so…After their development push at the end of 2010 it seems Ferrari have somehow engaged reverse!

If Ferrari can’t turn this around then they are going to really be “oweing” Alonso a lot.

Speaking of the drivers, Massa’s managed to pick up some fight in him again so he’s “recovering” it seems which is a good thing.

Edward Valentine

Ferrari were certainly in the mix in the early stages of Malasia – didn’t Alonso cruise up the inside of JB into turn 1 at one point? Perhaps it’s because RedBull are in a class of 1 at the front that Ferrari bosses feel there is a major lack of pace. When compared to JB and Lewis the Ferraris are alot closer on race pace then some people are saying.



Why were the wind tunnel correlation problems not picked up in pre season testing? The car seemed pretty quick and most people believed they would be just behind Red Bull.

I know it’s hard to compare performance between teams in testing, but surly Ferrari would have been able to see and check that the car was performing as the wind tunnel said it would. Why have the problems only arisen now?



Testing isn’t the same as racing. By what we saw at Barcelona from Mclaren the MP4-26 should be a dog, and Williams should have about 20 constructor points. Correlation issues are exceedingly difficult to find guickly when it comes to aero because you tend not to know what is a cause and what is effect. The first step or even the second step in troubleshooting a lack of dowforce is not to call into question your standards of testing.
Something is wrong at Maranello and I think the panic is justified, given that they’re getting beaten like a bongo by Red Bull and the RB7’s KERS doesn’t even work.


Part of the problem is to do with the lack of testing in my view.

If they don’t test, they dont have anything to correlate against.


But Ferrari spent a month worth of Kms everyday in testing ! They’ve burnt so much fuel GreenPeace started complaining.


They used to test like that most weeks at fiorano Jo before the ban.


All I know is Alain Prost didn’t win a single race with Ferrari back in 1991 & was on the podium a total of five times.

Watch this space for a certain famous baby is about to let it all hang out

Tom from Adelaide

I never really thought about it much before now, but Red Bull’s current dominance must create serious tensions in the boardrooms of some of these vehicle manufacturers.

Regardless of what the actual connection is between say Mercedes GP and Mercedes the car maker, to the average viewer, that expensive car maker is getting thrashed by a $3 per can drinks maker….

So to that end, GO Red Bull! Who doesn’t want to see overpaid corporate schmucks suffer a little.


I think it is a different thing that really matters here.

Red Bull gave total freedom to one of the best aero people, who works 4 days per week, is managed by his wife and earns $10 Million.

Mercedes – they are managed the same way as Honda and Toyota used to be managed – total control by the corporation.


James, any chance you could do a writeup on the USGP circuit? I know they recently gave it a name and I’m sure there may be other updates worth mentioning? Thanks!


Any truth to the rumor that Merc has given up on the 2012 car in order to focus on 2013?


Hahaa Classic! That’s one way to get a head start on the competition.


Ferrari are way off pace. Seb has not been pushing yet. They seem to be 4th best at this point as a team. They will turn things around, but they do need to work quick as it may take some time to understand this problem with no testing time.


I don’t buy this windtunnel correlation problem one bit. If they did not spot these issue with the most millage of any team in winter testing, then why have they now all of a sudden realised this is the issue? Fact is they thought they were quick and they aren’t in fact they have lost ground relative to other teams.

I put this down to the management and technical ability currently at Ferarri.

At some point James it would be great to get your views on how you rank each team’s management and technical development strengths.


Before we cast aspersions at how Ferrari and De Montezemolo are handling this complication, remember how similar issues were handled back in 2007 by Honda. The company hierarchy took far too long to recognize the issue with the RA107 and by that time (Hungary?) it was too late to do anything about it. The sort of reaction Ferrari is having is exactly what Formula One teams are supposed to do when the performance on the track does not match what the estimates were. Every point they leave on the track every podium they fall short of is also money in the bank. Now is the time to act swiftly, when the investment in correction of the 150 will do them some good.


I think Ferrari tend to severely struggle in hot temperatures aka melbourne. In Barcelona test and end of Malaysia they seemed to be on good pace with the rest when the temperatures wernt so warm


Errr no I think it’s the other way around. They seemed a lot better in the warmer conditions of Sepang.

It’s expected to be cool for Sat and Sun in Shanghai so unless they’ve found a fix during the week, they will struggle again.


In the past Ferrari have always been strong at the hotter tracks and poor at the cooler ones/when it rains. It’s amazing how those characteristics have continued for so long.


Melbourne wasn’t hot! I had a jacket on all weekend!


I had a chance to speak to Mark Gallagher who is the boss of Cosworth’s Automotive division 2 days ago.

We discussed couple of things – starting with the front wing of Red Bull and how they managed to design and executed something like this.

In particular, I was really interested in hearing some insights about the Ferrari and he highlighted many interesting things:

1. The atmosphere in the team is no longer the same as it was during the dream team reign

2. Stefano was not ready to take on the role

3. They lost too many important people in recent years

Mark believes that Ferrari will catch up by Canada and it is going to be a 3-way battle…

I honestly doubt it. They have several fundamental issues. One is the problems with the wind tunnel and it cannot be solved fast. You will be designing the car blindly. Another problem is Massa- it has to be said that he is no longer the same man. The “can you confirm you understood the message” killed him…

I really do not think that this is going to be a good year for Ferrari. They might be able to fight Renault, but the battle to Red Bulls and McLaren is lost.


I still don’t understand why a lot of people are saying that the “can you confirm you understood the message” incident has killed Massa’s morale to the point that he cannot race as he should? He is a highly paid F1 driver driving for arguably the best team and when people say things like that they are making him out to be, IMO, a sulky baby that emotionally fragile. If that is indeed the case then he shouldn’t be in the sport in the first place. Massa beat Kimi, had Kimi move over for him, Massa moved over for Kimi yet nothing changed then? If anything I think that the accident MIGHT have more to do with his lack of speed and race craft than anything else.


Why Webber is completely off pace compared to Vettel this year?


They give him second choice equipment.

Last year they could not really do that.

Even if RB was clearly supporting vettel, they could not go all the way since he was not proven and there always was the incertitude that Webber could outpace him quite often, and they may have needed webber to score points to win a the WDC.

This year Vettel, may still not be as proven as a long time champion, but he is a world champion, they can afford to treat webber as barrichello was treated at ferrari.

they can afford to lose some points with webber and invest on vettel, who will not be as bothered by his teammate as he was last year.


Massa was poor all season in 2010, i.e. a long time before the move over message, I think that to claim that this is the root of his problems is putting the cart before the horse.

Your comment about the atmosphere is interesting, the atmosphere at Renault is very much different from the championship years (2005-6), they used to be much more sparky then they are now. I expect Redbull are benefiting from the momentum that this sort of atmosphere brings at the moment.

I’m not sure if Stefano is ready or not but he certainly has big shoes to fill!


SD ready or not? Depends…he was not ready to keep Ferrari on a top level with key people leaving the team.

On Massa – do not forget the injury he had and how long he was out of F1.

Atmosphere – Ferrari, as you can see, is making lot’s of mistakes and they do not innovate. That tells you a lot.


Any theories on the Renault start system?


Perhaps they still have that “setting” they had in the mid 1990s still in the software 😉


The software is made by TAG-McLaren and Briatore no longer on board


They can still program it. Wasn’t suggesting it was anything nefarious just wondering whether it might be copyable or whether it’s instrinsic to the design ethos.


I’m amazed Ferrari could make such mistake. Will heads roll?


Not a mistake it takes time to bring the two data points together and usable


Which tyres for China? Much lower temperatures, more/faster wear, more downforce needed to heat tyres, not gonna be a Ferrari weekend. I suspect Red Bull will lead by a larger margin.


Same tires as Melbourne and Singapore. I believe the first 4 races were to have the same tire.

Although that 4 may have included Bahrain (which was cancelled), so Turkey may have a different set, considering they have been testing a super hard compund.


Isn’t it at least possible that this whole ‘wind tunnel correlation’ malarky is all just a load of smoke and mirrors (read: excuses)?

The Red Bull is pretty much on last year’s qualifying pace isn’t it? That’s despite the fact that everyone thought the lack of double diffusers and change of tyre supplier would actually take a chunk out of the lap times…

Maybe that’s what caught Ferrari out… Red Bull were sandbagging in testing, that much is totally clear. So maybe Ferrari just totally underestimated how fast they would need to be in raw quali mode, and thus believed their own car to be more adequate than it is? I suppose that’s a lot of maybe’s… but it is after all, why teams sandbag in the first place…

Either way, the quicker McLaren/Ferrari/Renault can get on RB pace, the better.

I don’t hold out much hope for the Germans… Would love to see MS get back in the hunt and show Vettel how it’s done. Never going to happen though.


With Ferrari there’s always a possibility of smoke and mirrors, but I’m not sure what they would be diverting attention from. Both drivers are complaining about lack of downforce and the need for better qualifying performance. Domenicali, Costa and Fry are as much admitting they have a problem with the car, so I’m not sure what sort of cover up there could be.


Hi James,

What is the usual standard deviation of the testing times between the wind tunnel tests, CFD simulations and on-track time? Can you give us a ballpark figure?


i’m so tired of hearing about aero.

open up the regulations and let them develop something mechanical, please.


Unlimited KERS perhaps. So we can see a car with a well developed KERS system battle a car with poor KERS and great aero.

One faster on straight line acceleration, one faster in high speed corners.


The money flows well at Maranello, can see Ferrari being strong sooner rather than later.


money restriction regulations !


“Hollywood” Accounting!


From a technical perspective it’s am interesting challenge for Ferrari as the lack of testing means they’re up against it to dial in the wind tunnel against reality.

I do think Ferrari are always a little quick to have emergency meetings (come on Jo torrent don’t dissapoint me by not disagreeing with me ;-).

Fernando said in another article I saw that he doesn’t think the issues will be solved overnight. I think they have cause to be positive and nit get too jumpy too early, but with Luca breathing down your neck, what do you do….


After reading the article a Smiths song popped into my head: “Panic on the streets on London, Panic on the streets of Birmingham…” 😉

I agree Andy that Ferrari seem “always a little quick to have emergency meetings”… but they need to do something quick, else I can see a few heads rolling.

Yet, why didn’t they notice this in pre-season testing?


My issues isnt that they have them, I’m sure that all teams do (i.e McLaren if they have a disasterous weekend).

The thing with Ferrari is, it all goes very public that they’re going to have one, then fans and the media in italy expect something to happen.

Success in all walks of life is about good people and consistency. There is no denying they already have good people in my view….



There’s a big difference between Ferrari and many of the other teams where racing is their sole business activity. For these teams, PR and media coverage is not just a necessary evil, it’s crucial for keeping their current sponsors and winning new ones as they don’t have the revenue stream of being a car producing company to fall back on.


Compared to McLaren nobody goes public. They announce their updates before they start developing them. The difference is the Ferrari impact.

The reason Dominicali made those announcements now and not after Australia is because he’s feeling the heat from Italy’s journos and that he had to give them something to relieve the pressure.


100% ok with you. If the windtunnel issues are serious they’re in big big big trouble and they’d better have their crisis meetings in Maranello’s church and pray that Renault doesn’t overtake them.


Haha Nice Jo!


That’s because they need to sort the windtunnel correlation first


Hi James,

Do you think there is any chance of Pirelli providing more sets of tyres to the teams as the season goes on?

It seems to me that having limited sets is only going to harm the racing.


They already have for practice. You mean for quali and race? I don’t think so


bad news for Hamilton. Excellent for Button


Yes, I worry that if drivers have to use old worn tyres during a race if they choose/need to pit 3-4 times this effectively eliminates their chance of pushing for a good result.

Ive been trying to explain to people I work with this week why Lewis Hamilton’s race fell apart in Sepang, when I mentioned that he had to use old tyres from qualifying later in the race their reaction was to ask why this can happen in F1 and that it seems silly that the pinnacle of motorsport isnt giving drivers enough tyres for whatever strategy they choose.

I tended to agree with this to a certain extent as I want to see drivers race to the flag and not being hampered by a lack of new tyres.


List of Ferrari issues


1 Correlation WindTunnel/Track : very very annoying and hard to solve particularly without testing.

2 Pit stops : the worst pit stops among top teams for the 3rd year in a row. I don’t understand how they can’t solve that.

3 Engine Freeze : the worst piece of tech regulations Ferrari accepted. They lost so much with that.

4 Stefano Dominicali : too soft, too gentle for Ferrari. They need a stronger leader

5 Luca Di Montezemolo : using Ferrari as a political tool with Italian flags all over the place


I completely agree,especially the last two. When we had Jean Todt and Ross, they were almost untouchable.


2. I was young, but if i remember well, and this is by far the biggest memory that i have from early 2000’s F1, Schummi used to win races almost just with in lap, out lap and quick pit stop, so i must say its your time now 🙂

6. I Don’t understand how can the ferrari be so quick in race pace(i still think that isn’t has quick as Maclaren, but maybe 1tht behind, which Dissapears under KERS + Slipstream + DRS (if working) but don’t have quali pace. I can only imagine that has something to do with Alonso becoming more aggressive with competition around him + the car working better without DRS active most of the time…

7. Second Year in a row that Massa can only race against Alonso, i wonder how much time will alonso hold himself before pulling one like China last year in pitbox entry. this if fun to watch 🙂


Schummi was in another universe all by himself for his in-laps.


In a recent interview, published today in El País newspaper, Alonso has stated that in order to perform like he has done in the last two races he has driven as if every lap were a Q3 best lap.


The windtunnel/track thing could be a real problem, Renault had a similar problem that took a couple of years for them to resolve, now they have got on top of it their windtunnel/cfd/track correlation is superb, every update they bought to the car last year worked as expected.

Alonso had a pitstop in the race where he was stationary for just over 5sec I think, more than a second slower than Hamilton’s “slow” stop, this wasn’t picked up on by the tv commentary though. Should be easy to remedy as they can watch video of other teams procedure.

I’m surprised more people don’t commment on the engine freeze, Mercedes went fron having the 3rd best engine at the end of 2006 when the freeze started (behind Ferrari and Renault)to the best now, all under a suposed freeze. This doesn’t come up in the Ferrari bias arguments!


Totally agree with #2. Following F1s Live Timing it was clear to me that Ferraris were consistently doing 1,5 seconds a longer first sector when compared with other top teams.

Can be both an issue with pit time or with cold tires (taking longer to warm them?)


I hope they prove you wrong, Jo.


me too


Slightly off topic, James, you don’t mention the starting issues that Fernando had both in Oz and in Malaysia. Was it just down on a bad performance by him, simply mistakes, or is there a deeper problem?


In Australia Alonso was pushed right to the edge of the track by Button, as a result of this single minded defence by Button they both lost a number of places.

In Malaysia Alonso was stuck behind Webber with his awful start and got swamped by cars from behind as a result.

In other words he has suffered some bad luck rather than bad starts as such.

He managed fairly good come backs, I’ll be interested to see what result he can pull with a clean start.


twice Massa overtook Alonso on the starts as Lila suggested. They both have the same car with the same equipment or a better one for Alonso, so the issue is with Alonso’s starts rather than Ferrari’s.

Ferrari has already dozens of problems without inventing new ones



Ferrari as you suggested is on McLaren pace in race trim and not far from RedBull. To have a healthy race pace you need downforce too.

If their problems are quali related, it’s about the use of tires in qualifying not about downforce. So I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE ARGUMENT ABOUT LACK OF DOWNFORCE.


Tires would be the first to look for but there are a couple more parameters different between race and quali.

1. the fuel load and

2. use of DRS(?)

Could it be that the car in low fuel does not sit well on the tarmac, resulting in low down-force? Also, if the can use DRS at all times in quali, maybe it upsets the car in some way?

Hope they sort it out soon.


great remark !


I thought the same thing and would love an answer!


The wind tunnel figures and the downforce the car is producing on track don’t match, so clearly the car isn’t working to it’s potential; if the figures aren’t matching they can’t bring updates to the car as effectively. They clearly aren’t getting as much out of their front wing as expected too, so obviously it’ to do with downforce.

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