Fernando Alonso believes it is important to Ferrari’s hopes of challenging for the world title that none of their rivals makes a dominant start to the season akin to Sebastian Vettel last year, should the Maranello team not be in a position to win from the first round in Australia.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali confidently declared that “I am sure our car will be winning right from the beginning” at the launch of the F2012 but due to the innovative nature of the design compared to recent Ferraris the team’s pre-season programme has to date generally had to centre on data acquisition work and evaluation of different set-ups and configurations to understand how to get the best out of the car.
With Red Bull and McLaren appearing further advanced with their testing programmes, and just one test left this week, Melbourne may come too soon to hit Domenciali’s aim but Alonso is still hopeful of a strong start, with the wins ideally shared among the top drivers as in 2010 should Ferrari not be at its best immediately.
“It is definitely too early to say where we are compared to the others. Red Bull is very strong, but that’s hardly a surprise. For our part, it will be useful to get off to a good start as this always takes the pressure off the team, but if we do not turn out to be competitive enough to challenge for victory immediately, then it’s important that it’s not just one person doing the winning,” he told the team’s website.
“If one thinks about it, the difference in performance between us and Red Bull in 2011 was not that different to what it had been in 2010 and yet two years ago, we came to the last race leading the championship, while last year we were hardly ever in the title fight.”
He reiterated that Ferrari’s progress to date continued to be steady and further steps forward would be made this week: “Maybe we are only taking small steps forward, but they are coming constantly: in Barcelona, the F2012 was better than it had been in Jerez and it will be better still this week and even more so in Melbourne. There is still a lot of work to do, but as of today, there is no reason why we should not be ready for the first race.”
That final preparation work at the Circuit de Catalunya will now take place for Ferrari as originally scheduled on March 1-4 after the team, along with Red Bull who had adopted the same schedule, scrapped plans to sit out Thursday’s opening day and run into the start of the next week [Monday 5] instead.
Ferrari confirmed that the change had been prompted by “a new clarification of Article 22.4 of the Sporting Regulations, which was sent to the teams late yesterday evening”. The Article in question outlines when track testing is not allowed to take place, with the clarification appearing likely to have been centred on the first part of the sentence which reads that no testing may take place “Between the start of the week preceding the first Event of the Championship and 31 December of the same year [barring exemptions]…”