F1 Winter Break
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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So, James, if I read that correctly - you think that Ferrari's issues are merely down to wind tunnel upgrade they have performed prior to 2011 start ? If this is really the case, they have a tough problem to solve.


Is it RRa related that they can't still use the 50% windtunnel or did they physically remove it and install 60% tunnel?


Everybody is talking about Ferrari what about Mercedes ? They were certainly faster than Ferraris and if not equal almost there with Redbulls in Barcelona.
Whats gone so wrong there? Michael looks really good out performing Nico on friday and saturday except for his DRS problem on both qualifying .
They were even slower than the ferraris now how come some GPTEAM go back 1 sec from barcelona in a span of 2 weeks and still not able to find out the problem !


I think people are talking mainly about Ferrari because it's THE Ferrari.

They've been in this sport since ever, they say that they have to fight for the championships because of their history, tradition, etc. The fact that they seemed to be close to Red Bull through the whole winter only supports these expectations.

Mercedes, on the other hand was closer to Red Bull in some tests, but they were also behind in other. There were some expectations, but it wasn't as serious and "certain" as in Ferrari's case. Plus, Mercedes doesn't really have that whole background (like their F1 history isn't as "strong" and visible as with Ferrari).

As a result of all these factors, Ferrari's form came as a much bigger (negative) shock than Mercedes'. Mercedes might be even in greater trouble than Ferrari, but I think people (I mean most fans) weren't expecting them to fight for the championships - they were rather hoping that Mercedes can be good this year and achieve something (expectation vs. hope), while with Ferrari - people took it for granted before the season that they would fight for WDC and WCC, so their form comes now as a much bigger shock and concern.

I think last year's performance has something to do with it too - Mercedes was a midfield team, hoping to be better this year, so it's not as surprising that they're still in the midfield. Ferrari was close to the top, so how come they lost it...?

That's how I see it at least 🙂


I think Ross brawn came out during testing and said publically that they were not fast enough. Martin Whitmarsh said publically that they were not fast enough in testing. Ferrari meanwhile, were shouting about how they were going to win this season - something the media bought into as well.

So we were not surprised by Mercedes, we were surprised by the McLaren, not really surprised by the Red Bull, but surprised that Ferrari have fallen back.

Yes, Ferrari have been in the sport from the start, but I don't think that's WHY we have to talk about them. Let's not forget, they didn't win a title between 1979 and 2000, Didn't win a race between 1991 and 1994, and only won two races between 1991 and 1996... It is only thanks to Schumacher that we now expect them to be competitive, and that particular German is now sitting in a Merc...


Yes, that's what I was more or less actually thinking - expectations from winter testing did not meet results in the season in case of Ferrari, hence everybody is talking about them. People took it too much for granted that they would be competitive.

And I knew someone would come up with the argument that Ferrari didn't win anything for a long time in the past! Which is absolutely true, but memory is short so most people remember Schumacher/Ferrari's dominance from the beginning of 21st century and is creates the assumption that Ferrari HAS TO be competitive 😉


Why should ppl talk about Mercedes anyway? They are not a team that should be taken seriously. We are talking about a team that built lemon after lemon with almost unlimited financial resources back in Honda days. 2009 was one off, thanks to ddd.

Now they are operating with a much lower budget and you expect JA to talk about them? Thats funny

Sure they do show encouraging signs time by time. But going backward is their trademark.


Wondering when they will stop development of the 2011 car, and start work on the 2012 car ?

Seems to be their form for the past few years.


Good point - admittedly, they did build quite a few lemons 🙂


Between Barcelona and Australia they all didn't stop working. Still kept working on improvements even though they could.t test it, until Australia practice.

Red Bull made the most progress in that time span with Mclaren, Ferrari just a bit, Renault a bit more and Mercedes hardly any.

So Ferrari and Mercedes didn't lose any of their Barcelona pace. It is that the others advanced much more in between Barcelona tests and Melbourne race.


I agree with you in all but one area - I think McLaren made the most progress between Barcelona and Melbourne, from a dismal car being a couple of seconds off, to suddenly having the second fastest car on the grid. In testing, they were behind most teams, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Torro Rosso, Williams, Sauber...


From what I have heard Merc are having probs with the DRS, Kers and overheating. I think they are fuel thirsty aswell.


Hi KD, with the fuel consumption, are you suggesting Mercedes is worse than McLaren, e.g through the overrun used of the blown diffuser? Or just relative to the less powerful Renault engines?

Either way, this shouldn't be too much of an impact on qualifying pace (very slightly greater ride height variation or harder springs), but it would make them a bit slower in the early laps, which is hard to tell at the moment after only two races.


Did I miss something here? Were they really that fast at Barcelona? Or did they spend the whole winter test being fairly slow, only to set a fastest time in the last couple of days, possibly on fresh tyres / low fuel, and thus making the headlines.

It was hard to know what was going on in winter testing, so you have to look at average times, not just one offs. It was the Mclaren that appeared slow, and their recovery has been much talked about - and Ferrari that appeared to be faster, hence this blog from James to discuss it.


"Ferrari updated their windtunnel from 50-60 percent last year "

What does this statement mean? If you could clarify that would be great.

I take it mean something like the models used in the tunnel are now 60% full-size rather than 50% size or something similiar?

Thanks James.


And there I was thinking that they did the Wind Tunnel testing on the actual cars themselves!

Come to think of it, it does (in my opinion) seem a bit odd, that they don't do that anyway. I've seen Wind Tunnels being shown on the TV, and they seem plenty big enough to fit an F1 car in them.


Hi Ian,

as you may have seen above in Galapagos' comment, the teams are not allowed to test full size components under the rules. The air speed is also limited to 50 m/s (180 km/h). These two things probably combine to discourage the development of components that flex under load, but this hasn't stopped it happening.


While the wind tunnel might physically fit a full-sized F1 car, the results you'd get would be wrong because of the blockage effect. When testing models in a wind tunnel, the frontal area of the model should be small relative to the cross-sectional area of the working section. That's why you often see huge wind tunnels being used to run small models.


its very expensive and time consuming to build full size car parts for testing, therefore teams build scaled down models which helps to make better use of their limited wind tunnel testing time.


It's also the expense of building components to test. They build dozens of half-scale models of pieces that never even make it onto the car.


Whilst you get more accurate results with a 100% model (i.e. they put the actual car in the tunnel, or sometimes 2 cars to simulate slipstreaming), it costs significantly more, but more importantly for an F1 team, the lead time is much longer as you have to create the part in full size. With the advent of Rapid Prototyping (RP)/Stereolithography you can produce smaller size components very quickly.


Cost and power consumption have never been high in an F1 team's priorities. Time however...

There are also some operational/historical issues as well. The Williams tunnel from 1990 was at 50% scale, and whilst their newer tunnel is larger, they kept to 50% models as it meant they could swap the models between the tunnels, speeding up development, with less wastage, and you can also do a validation on the other tunnel's readings with the same model.

With the resource restriction agreement the teams are down to one wind tunnel, so this may not still be the case, but they can still outsource windtunnel time to a third party...


R u sure it's about building bigger aero elements and not about the windtunnel itself. I imagine that running a 100% model requires bigger WindTunnels with more powerful fans, power consumption, etc...

60% model WindTunnel costs less to build and to run. Don't u think that's the main reason.

I'm only speculating I don't know the answer.


What's the advantage to increasing the model size? I'm guessing it makes it easier to model the more complex components on the car?


Doesn't the windspeed scale with size?



R u kidding me only 180km/h windtunnel testing is allowed. In Malaysia, there are 4 corners above 250Km/h.

For high speed they have to rely only on CFD !!!


@Matthew Green

Re: restrictions on Wind Tunnel Testing


Some restrictions apply to Wind Tunnel Testing, as stated on the FIA 2011 Sporting Regulations, article



h) With the exception of the full scale testing permitted in 22.1(a) above, no wind tunnel testing may be carried out using a scale model which is greater than 60 percent of full size.

i) No wind tunnel testing may be carried out at a speed exceeding 50 metres/second."

The "full scale testing permitted in 22.1(a) above" are track testing.

So maximum size is 60%, and maximum speed is 180kph.


any why only 60% , do i remember a rule saying people arnt allowed 100% size wind tunnels ?

is that a max ? now assuming its only 60% 🙂 thats why they went up 10% , to get 10% better figures ??



Indeed, just like one of our cars theoretically can do 74 mpg but actually achieves about 50mpg 😉


There is tomuch profesionlsm and knowhow

add a red hot passion in Ferrari camp to

brush them aside.

Would't be surprised if they turn the

tables up on all of them.


I hope I'm proved wrong but I reckon RedBull & Newey will be 2011 F1 champions.

The Renaults will cause problems for both McLaren (as they already have in slowing Hamilton down) & Ferrari (as they did in the last race of 2010.

Everyone (including you James) will be going on just how Vettel is the best in F1 where (in my opinion) BOTH Alonso & Hamilton are better (probably Kubica too.

Should Ferrari, McLaren or even Renault start to match RedBull and mix it wheel to wheel with Vettel just watch out for his inability to pass in the same way the likes of Hamilton & and to a lesser extent Alonso can.


I agree. I don't dislike Vettel (except that finger he is showing when he gets pole or wins a race), he is very good at his age, but before having a very good car, he used to crash more then others. I want to see Vettel in 2-3 races being around 3rd or 4th with Lewis, Alonso, MW and JB around him.

That's when I will be impressed. Having the fastest car and starting from pole and leading to the finish is not the definition of a great driver in my book.


Thank-you, I've been waiting for someone to notice. He does seem to be a very good driver. Is he as good as Prost, Senna and lauda? I think he would struggle away from the support team he has around him. The above drivers were successfull with differant teams and personal. Even Schummy had Bruan at all his successful team.


I agree, having the fastest car with a brutal advantage (especially in Q3 where they seem to turn something on to give them even more advantage) that can get you pole pretty much every time does not make you a great champion.

I want to see Vettel actually work for it for once (to give a good example, Alonso muscling past Massa in Hungaroring I think for the win a few years back).

Has Vettel ever won a race where he didnt start from the front as his overtaking prowess leaves a lot to be desired, eg Spa last year.

If RB maintains this advantage and doesnt have reliability problems, the championship will be sewn up in 7 or 8 races.

Christopher Snowdon

How about winning from pole in Italy in a Toro Rosso, or starting the defence of his title with a pole lap a second quicker than anyone else, despite his disadvantage of not having kers. Does winning the world championship not qualify him as one of the best? Alonso and Hamilton are quality drivers no doubt, but they all have a similar trait, pull something special out of the bag when its needed, ie, the last ditch pole lap Vettel did last week. That got him to pole and allowed him to control the race (not a crime you know, all the greats have done that in the past), and was again disadvantaged with no kers, on a track noted for having lots of long straights. Alonso and Hamilton make mistakes to you know, they collided last week, and of course they both have the advantage of driving for Formula One’s two most successful teams ever. I appreciate the fact that all of you guys could do the same at the tender age of 23, question is why can’t Mark Webber?

His statistics aren’t to bad either, probably the best ever for 64 races, championships – 1, poles – 17, podiums – 21, wins – 12!


Perhaps the car dominated in Australia, but in Malaysia Vettel certainly had to work hard in Q3 to get that pole position.


I recall when Renault didn't have as much of an advantage/dominant speed, they had a somewhat faster car, and Alonso would take pole and win and simply dominate lap after lap. Vettel has only just started to win in this manner.
As for Ferrari.... Its clearly the 3rd or maybe 4th fastest.

[This took time to moderate. Please try to be constructive not, slagging people off. There's no place for that here - Mod]


Some of what you say is fair, but Vettel has been in cars that have had high downforce to get a performance advantage rather than an engine advantage. This means that qualifying performance tends to be better than race performance as tyre wear increases with the additional downforce, so there is a tendency to win from the front. Also less engine power makes getting past on the straights more difficult. Hamilton, a renowned overtaker, has always had the best engine in F1. Even if the downforce is wound up, the acceleration out of corners is better. As we saw in Malaysia, Hamilton couldn't use is excellent feel under braking against Heidfeld as he couldn't get near the Renault. Vettel has consistently had this problem during his three seasons at Red Bull.


Have u not heard of the new rear wing system this year. Everybody will be able to pass anyone this year.


No, the DRS allows you to get closer to the car in front. Passing is still down to the driver to find the space and make the move


Doesn’t look like the gap is so big, a near podium and fastest lap in Malaysia.

Or perhaps Alonso’s skills are masking the real size of the problem.


I remember reading a couple of years ago,one of the Minardi guys saying that it was almost problematic that Alonso would hide weaknesses in cars by driving around them.


Good call. I think Fernando is a top driver and a decent leader.

I've posted loads of times before that I can't understand the pressure Ferrari are under (as I don't read the Italian media, or see the fans pressure), or the witch hunt that follows all bad results (dyer, baldiserri).

Have faith Ferrari and fans 😉


yeah its well to early for knee jerk reactions. if they start firing people then they will 100% fail.

if they keep their heads they will get it right. im a huge alonso fan, but had he not clipped lewis he would of at least been 3rd and also 2nd in the world title.

so its all not all bad.

what ferrari should be worrying about is their rubbish pit stops. and massa poor pace in relation to fernando. they need to find out if its cos alonso is amazingly fast or if massa has lost it.


Montezmolo wants to be the next PM of Italy or at least hold a key political office. He first needs to be the leader of a high profile, high achieving team leading the championship, "it's a matter of prestige" (to quote Mr Bridger in the original Italian Job) of face, to be seen to be a great leader of a top team. Then there's the Tiffosi, the fanatical Italian equivalent of lifetime hardcore Celtic or Rangers supporters on speed and then some! They are a prominent part of the Ferrari culture and let the team know their feelings.

So Ferrari have pressure both from within, from the boss and from outside where the fans are not happy. Then themselves, the team, they must be gutted because the hard work they did all winter that looked so good and they've let down the boss and the fans.

So, that's pressure!


It's a matter of prestige.

My favourite film of all time. Fact!


pressure in Italy is huge Andy. A Formula 1 race is analysed through Ferrari results mainly not to say only. Spectators used to leave the circuit at Imola & Monza when both Red cars left the race.

I used to watch F1 races on RAI UNO a decade ago and only Red matters. No team is subject to such a level of pressure. Alain Prost said once that his team boss at Ferrari back then used to read the italian press and make decisions based on press mood. More recently, Italian media repeatdly asked for Jean TODT's head and Luca Di Montezemolo kept defending him which proved the right move.

Off topic, la gazzetta dello sport prepared with RAI 15 DVDs on ferrari history. The series is called “La Grande Storia Ferrari” and is distributed with the newspaper starting this monday. I can't wait to watch it. Imagine 15 DVDs on La Rossa di Maranello !


"I used to watch F1 races on RAI UNO a decade ago and only Red matters. No team is subject to such a level of pressure. Alain Prost said once that his team boss at Ferrari back then used to read the italian press and make decisions based on press mood. "

There is probably the reason they didn't win a championship for 21 years until Todt, Brawn, et al changed that mentality. Who makes decisions based on what a bunch of journos think rather than your own engineers and drivers?? I hope for your sake they are not going back to the same ways.....but I won't mind if they do as I don't care much for the reds anyway.

Quick Nick Rules

Off topic I know James but how nice was Nick Heidfeld's open letter to Robert Kubica this week? It showed compassion and humility - traits which are seldom seen in the self-absorbed world of F1. If you were being really cynical you could say that the sentence where he says 'I want you to get back as soon as possible and drive this car' shows he lacks that cold-hearted, win-at-all-costs mentality that the likes of Senna and Schumi possessed but it's nice to see there is at least one F1 driver out there with a sense of perspective. Well done Quick Nick!


that's why Quick Nick wasn't isn't and won't be a champion.

To be a great champion you need to be egocentric ruthless relentless unforgiving opportunistic machiavellic and willing to do anything to achieve your goal : everything we hate about human beings. Nick has only the talent.

Quick Nick Rules

I don't know about Champion - there are many nice guys who won the title once eg Jenson, Damon Hill, Keke Rosberg. What I meant was that the greats eg Prost Senna Schumi all had a ruthless streak. I rate Quick Nick at the same level as Jenson, so there is no reason why in the right car he couldn't be champion. Would not be surprised to see him finally break the victory duck this year


Don't forget you can also be a nice chap and a ruthless competitor at the same time and also be a champion.


And yet Jo, with the right car, at the right time, you can be champion and still be a decent bloke. vis Jenson and almost Lewis.


Jenson is a decent bloke and a champion. But he's far from a great champion ( a campionissimo )


Agree on Jenson!


Pressure pressure pressure.

It's these story lines that make F1 interesting to me: McLaren pulling themselves out a deep hole (at least for the first 2 races), Ferrari falling on their face, Renault nipping at everyone's heels. Great stuff.


Yeah, the repeat of 2007 troubles for Ferrari, more or less. The only way to climb back (if their emergency technical measures don't work) is to protest rival teams' cars and just rock the boat hoping the faster guys would make a mistake but given the existence of FOTA, it's not likely I suppose.

Was it Lauda who suggested Italians can't run the team properly and it would all fall apart sooner or later? Mamma mia, madonna and all that - post-Todt Ferrari crisis is in full swing.


The problem is indeed the Italian culture in the post Todt era.

Todt never referred to Montezemolo as Il Presidente. In fact Todt never mentioned Montezemolo at all in public interviews, statements etc on behalf of the team.

Todt in fact kept Montezemolo at bay, in his office letting him do the ceremonial Ferrari stuff.

Now Montezemolo is all over the team run by Domenicali.

And in Italian culture.. for Domenicali to keep Il Presidente at bay (read: away from the race bays where cars are prepared) is just out of the question.

I would guess that this sudden fly back that is totally inefficient... zombies sitting at the meeting table... all could have been done via videoconferencing and sharing all relevant data and findings via emails....

But the Act of flying back is like a show... that must satisfy Il Presidente.

Please note I am not saying anything bad about Italian culture.. having lived/worked there for 4 years under Italian management.. I enjoyed it.. but there is this 'tread carefully' when dealing with the highest boss.. which i think was not there in the Todt era. He was boss, took responsibility.. everybody else feels comfortable and performs in the optimum.

Now Montezemolo spanks Domenicali.. he in turn gives his staff a good spanking.. in the sphere of spanking there is a loss of important communication... detailed issues (like windtunnel etc) do not get communicated upward.

Boh!... so much for my input... it may be way off target 🙂


Next thing you know Ferrari will win in China to prove us all wrong, I've seen that happen in F1 so many times... It's easy to base one's ideas on one or two races or even worse, winter testing.

I was merely suggesting possible scenarios but it doesn't mean I beLIEve everything I say. Sophism, guys, is a wonderful thing.


I like sophism, I really do. Maybe I'm applying it in my own way but don't worry - there won't be any "windows of opportunity" or "pushing the envelope". I can also guarantee I'm not a philanthropist!


Ok, quit using big words, Iberian, it makes me suspicious!

Next you'll be saying 'paradigm' and 'organic' and other New Age buzzwords!


Yep there was a time when we had dream team and there was a man who thought Ferrari will be strong without them. Guess what, the aura of the Red is fading to blue.


hahaha! "for sure" you have posted that before and ill say again, montezemolo wanted schuey out for kimi and look what he got in return! i hope ferrai and alonso fall to the slump of the '80s they deserve it!


Yep that's exactly what I thought. You can see the post Suzuka 2006 video on YouTube where Michael embraced with everyone except Luca and it's not hard to imagine the reasons behind. Yep you are right. He is getting exactly what he deserves. By right, Ross Brawn should have been the team principle instead of that "Mr. We need to react" .


Instead of bashing, you better support your favourite team/driver if you've got any.


Alain Prost suggested the same. Both drivers have had a bitter end to their stint with Ferrari particularly Prost. Great champions aren't the most objective observers.


Luca needs to chill out and read some basic management books. He'll never get the best out of the team if he's always publicly berating them and heaping pressure on their heads.


So, if i have well understood, Luca is the guy who hired Todd, Brawn, Schumacher, Byrne, Raikkonen etc. They won 6 drivers titles and 8 constructors under his management. not mentioning two titles Luca won as a team manager in the 70ies with Lauda and the guy need to take lessons from armchairs experts as you guys.

Do you guys even know what you are talking about?


Its the Ferrari way...


Now Ben, never forget "pressure" is a

great thing.

Diamonds are made by pressure.

Do you have anything against diamonds?

other they are to dear to give to ( she )

who must be obey.


Hurrah. I don't have to type it. 😉


What keeps puzzling me, even more after reading about the windtunnel correlation problems, is...

How did this all go unnoticed in winter tests? Alarms only went off after FP2 in Australia, so prior to that did Ferrari simply thought that they had the pace that they are clearly lacking?


they must of had pace. other teams were saying it more so than them. their consistency was impressive...and still is it. fernando was extremely good in malaysia and melbourne. but he messed up turn 1 in australia.

they are not heating up their tyres enough. which in race conditions is fine for durablity, but means qualy suffers.


The difference in qualy has to come from one of two places: Tires that have problem heating up or qualy-only techniques that are used by red bull and McLaren, like burning fuel in the exhaust during qualy to provide improved downforce.


The worrying thing for all of us is that Ferrari Mcclaren et al take too long to improve and Red Bull run away with the championship.

It's been said before that Red Bull were formidable early last year but suffered with reliability issues. This year they seem to be ironed out.

I am worried that by the teams catch up it will be all over.

All the DRS KERS and tyre changes will have become redundant.

I am not a Ferrari fan (well not an Alonso fan) but I am genuinely hoping they pull themselves together so we can have a season the fans will find exciting.



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.


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


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


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.


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


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


money restriction regulations !


"Hollywood" Accounting!


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.


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?


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.


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.


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


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 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.


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!


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 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.


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.


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.


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!

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.


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



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.

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.


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.


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?

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