In wake of Ferrari technical director Pat Fry’s recent frank assessment of the urgent need to change the “methodologies” used at the team in order to become successful again, Stefano Domenicali has now confirmed the process of making such deep-seated change is firmly underway – although stressed it would be a long-term project.
Ferrari’s disappointing start to the season, which has happened despite a change in design philosophy for 2012, appears to have crystallised for the Maranello hierarchy the need to overhaul its fundamental approach to designing and developing F1 cars. Speaking on Monday, Domenicali, Ferrari’s team principal, said the plan was to make root and branch changes to the working practices at the team and confirmed that president Luca di Montezemolo was taking a key active role in the process such is its importance to the outfit’s future.
“We are intensifying the process of changing our working procedures in all areas and, at the same time, we are strengthening our efforts in areas where we are weakest, such as aerodynamics,” he said on Monday night. “It’s a long term project and one that President Montezemolo is studying at first hand and it is vital to the future of the Scuderia. Formula 1 has changed so much these past few years and we have not always been up to speed with these changes. In this area too we need to step up a gear.”
Fry had already pinpointed the aerodynamics department as a pivotal area for improvement after being left trailing by Red Bull in particular in recent years and on the eve of the Bahrain GP weekend it was revealed that well-respected former RBR, McLaren and Benetton aerodynamicist Ben Agathangelou was joining the team from Marussia. But although Ferrari is thinking long-term in a bid to return to world championship-winning ways, the team is also working hard to improve its more immediate competitiveness after a difficult start to the season with the F2012.
With teams having another full two weeks of development time ahead of them prior to the start of the European season at Barcelona – including the first in-season test for three years at Mugello next week – Domenicali admits it is a crucial fortnight for Ferrari. However, he suggested that not every update currently planned to feature in Spain might be ready to roll out on the track at next week’s test in Italy.
“The coming days will be very important, during which the primary objective will be to push as hard as possible on the development of the car: next week we have three days of testing at Mugello, but it’s not definite that all the updates planned for Barcelona will be seen then,” the Italian said. “We must try and make the most of every minute available to us to increase the performance of the F2012.”
However, while Ferrari’s employees have returned to Europe knowing they have much work ahead of them, the situation has been put into perspective by the tragic news that reached the team in Bahrain on Sunday that a 32-year-old employee who worked in the gearbox department at Maranello, Matteo Vignali, had died of a heart attack that morning.
Following Sunday’s race Domenicali admitted the team were in a “state of dismay” and tonight Ferrari added: “After such a long time away, it’s good to be home and back with one’s nearest and dearest: it is all the more appreciated at this time of sadness at the death of a colleague and in many cases a friend, Matteo Vignali, who passed away suddenly yesterday morning. There were few dry eyes at the Sakhir track yesterday nor in Maranello today at the factory and many will be in Sestola tomorrow afternoon to say a final farewell to Matteo.”