Ferrari technical director Pat Fry has revealed that the team has managed to accelerate some of the ongoing development work on the F2012 in time to bring five new parts to the car for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, the Englishman believing the team need to find eight tenths of a second to get on par with the fastest team on outright pace.
Although Fernando Alonso’s brilliantly opportunistic victory in Malaysia took him into a hugely unexpected early lead in the drivers’ championship after two rounds, neither driver nor team have attempted to mask the F2012’s continued underperformance in dry conditions and the team has used the three-week break to try and bring forward upgrades previously planned for the start of the European season to Shanghai.
Fry says the team’s design office has succeeded to an extent, with five unspecified updates to feature on the car this weekend – some of which he says will be more obvious than others.
“We are constantly working on improving the issues we have,” he told Ferrari’s website. “New parts are coming through and we are trying to get them to the race track as quickly as possible – We will have five updates for China, some are quite visible others less so. Then there will be a bigger upgrade package for Spain.
“It would be nice to have them earlier, but we have already brought forward some parts we were developing for Spain and we should have them in China.”
Fry admits the kind of drying track conditions seen at Sepang currently favour the F2012, the car able to generate heat into its tyres more quickly than recent predecessors, and that in normal conditions they still needed to find a best part of a second per lap.
“I think our dry qualifying performance is still around eight tenths off the best while we want to be the best ourselves,” he suggested. “Damp low grip conditions suit our car and flatter some of the issues we have with the F2012 at the moment. You could see that in Melbourne on Friday and again in the race in Malaysia.”
Reports in the Italian Autosprint publication last week suggested that Ferrari has been working on a new rear bodywork package akin to that on engine customer Sauber’s C31, with the exhaust exits brought forward, although it remains to be seen when exactly such a package will be raced.
Although Ferrari has been focused on clawing its way back to the front, Fry admits he has been surprised to have seen Red Bull trail McLaren so far given how the picture looked in pre-season. “I was slightly suprised by Red Bull’s comparative lack of pace. McLaren were relatively quick but I would have put these two teams the other way round if you’d asked me a month ago,” he said.