Fry delivers stark assessment of Ferrari shortcomings
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Apr 2012   |  11:40 am GMT  |  175 comments

From the unexpected high of victory in Malaysia, the Chinese Grand Prix brought Ferrari back down to earth with a bump as Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa finished in ninth and 13th places respectively. The Maranello outfit may currently be in the process of accelerating developmental work on the F2012 in a bid to improve the difficult car’s competitive as quickly as possible, yet the team’s senior technical figure has admitted there are also more deep-rooted problems that need to be resolved if Ferrari is to enjoy sustained long-term success again.

Pat Fry, who took the reigns of Ferrari’s technical department last year following the axing of team stalwart Aldo Costa and promptly instigated a more aggressive design focus, in Shanghai delivered what was a frank assessment of what he believes the team’s shortcomings are. The Briton feels a fundamental overhaul is required in the ‘methodologies’, in other words, the fundamentals of the way Maranello designs and develops its F1 cars. It hints at a long term fix, to return the Scuderia to the glory days of the 2000s.

“I don’t really want to go into where all the problems are – it’s not just a case of us trying to build a quicker car, we need to fundamentally be changing the methodologies that we use to select, design and manufacture so that we are competitive long term,” Fry said over the weekend. “There’s work on all fronts, not just work going into what we’re taking to Barcelona, there’s also a huge amount of work in just trying to change the fundamentals of what we do so we can actually take a step forward and be competing with everyone else.”

The Italian marque, which last won the drivers’ title in 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen, has yet to find a consistent formula for success since the momentum built up from its glory years with Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt at the start of the century gradually faded.

Aside from a purple patch with Fernando Alonso in the second half of the 2010 season that took the Spaniard within a strategic mistake of the title, Ferrari has rarely even been the second-fastest team on outright pace since the sport’s rules overhaul in 2009 and even a more deliberately aggressive approach for this season has only – a rain-affected Sunday at Sepang aside – seen Ferrari slip into the clutches of the midfield, rather than catapulting them to the head of the field as had been hoped.

Correlation problems with its wind tunnel at the start of last year stymied the team’s progress with the 2011 car and Fry admits a stronger aerodynamic programme is top of the team’s priorities, along with a complete overall of the “methodologies” currently used in the design process.

“The biggest performance differentiator – as people have mentioned earlier – is aerodynamics. We’ve got some issues there that we’re trying to resolve. The areas you need to be working on is everything from the way you run the wind tunnel, the accuracy of your wind tunnel, the simulation that you use to decide what components to take forward, so we’re not leaving any stone unturned,” he explained.

“We’re actually trying to review and revise our methodologies through the whole process and that carries on into the design office for trying to get weight out of various parts, make other bits more durable, so there’s work going on absolutely everywhere within the company, on the basic fundamental methodology as well as just trying to upgrade the car.”

After a difficult race in China on Sunday, Fry added that the short-term situation is unlikely to change much in Bahrain with the team’s first big upgrade of the year – when a new exhaust layout looks set to be pressed into service – having to wait until Barcelona. “Next week in Bahrain we won’t have any particularly significant updates, so we cannot expect a miracle: we must try and squeeze the maximum out of what we have to work with,” he added.

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1

Hi James,

Interesting forum. Long on opinions and short on facts, but interesting.

As for the root topic, I believe Pat Fry is one very smart cookie. He knows the game and if Ferrari can keep their cool, he will bring a level of professionalism to partner their enthusiasm. It takes time. I’m sure Ron taught him how to watch his back.

While I doubt very much he reads this forum, mate there’s still a slot in my garage for the Peroxide Blonde if your mum wants it out of her garden!

2

I think the proper question is: “What I’m heaven’s name were they doing last year designing the car?” Fry can’t blame an infrastructure that produced so many race winning cars. I think it is all on Fry’s design on this year’s car. The 2011 Ferrari was competitive in Silverstone when they banned the blown diffuser. Why didnt they develop last year’s car with this in mind? Radical is never the way to go when designing a car. Evolution is the key. They need to dump that pull rod system fast, and re-work the flawed aero, and lastly dump Fry and put Rory Bryne in charge!

3

Come back Aldo Costa! He’s now at Mercedes, and look at them now.

4

Yes, but so is Bob Bell and Geoff Willis.

5

Ferrari has lost it’s mojo, but they will get it back for sure.

They dominated most of the 2000’s an amazing achievement. Most teams can only dominate for 2-3 years at a time… look at Red Bull this year… they are pretty bruised and having to remember what’s it’s like to play catch up.

That’s the wonderful thing about F1… everything can change so quickly… look at Williams this year – 18 points already compared to 5 points scored in 2011! A joy to see them re-invigorated.

As a Ferrari fan for over 20 years now it’s heart breaking to see the cars struggle, (I blame that ugly nose) but Ferrari will be back.

6

I wonder if Ferrari would consider giving Domenicalli’s job to: FLAVIO BRIATORE.

7
Lawrence Lavery

James/anyone, what happened to Nigel Stepney? I believe he is with Sumo Power now but in relation to Ferrari. I think I am right in saying he wanted Domenicalli’s job and because he didn’t get it he left Ferrari. Should he have got it? For what it is worth Ferrari haven’t been having too bad of a time as per Michael Brown’s comment above. Hopefully they will inmprove, it would be good to see Alonso and Massa fighting for wins/podium finishes.

8
Alex Antonoglou

Would that be Nigel – the Mole – Stepney? A real catch that bloke! Of course he was sacked for passing on confidential Ferrari information to McLaren!

9

Among other things….

10

Did they ever confirm what the “white powder” he was meant to have put in their fuel tanks was?

11

Things haven’t been so bad at Ferrari since the “dream team” era, which itself ended with two years (2005-2006) without a championship.

– 2007 Kimi took the drivers crown.

– 2008 Massa missed out on the driver’s title by 1 point.

– 2009 was a bad year for everyone except Brawn.

– 2010 Alonso just missed the title at the last race.

It’s only really since 2011 that things have really got very dire and by then any “momentum” from the dream team years had definitely faded. With this year looking to be a very open championship, I’m still optimistic that Ferrari can turn things around in time.

12
Alex Antonoglou

Let’s not forget the 2008 Constructors’ Title won by Ferrari! McLaren haven’t won one of those since 1998!

13

Looking at it that way (and I agree) I think more and more that it is just a case of Fry covering his own behind as it looks like an anus horiblis!

Real question is of course who can ferrari put in place for domenicalli and Fry? They keep trying Newey but I just can’t see him work in an ‘Italian’ environment. As for Domenicali, Ihaven’t a clue who could take his job and wants it/is available.

Any ideas anyone?

14

James this is obviously an important topic and story for many fans.

What is your personal view on what is going on at Ferrari and what you make of Fry’s comments?

Where does Ferrari go from here, how do you think LdM will react?

It would be great if you could share those views as well.

15

I’m a big fun of speculations, big stories, theories etc. and must admit I take part in all of these conversations. F1 has plenty of that, since it is a very complicated sport, however one team gets the most of it, the name is Ferrari.

I kind need to be pragmatic. Realistically Ferrari is another F1 team like the rest who participate in championships. As such it develops a car every year with the hope to be the fastest. So boring lines hey? Hell yeah, we all know this! So getting it right takes time, resources, people, robust thinking, and precious newness, especially when copy paste might not be enough to get you there.

Ferrari then is building a new team, like it did during the Rory, Brown, Schumacher era which took some time to establish it self as dominant factor in F1 after so many years on the sideline. Will that new team be a success like the previous one, time would tel.

The same applied to competition; for instance, it took some years for Adrian Newey to make RB a championship wining team. It took 3 cars for Brown to have a win with Mercedes. It took 4 cars since last championship for Maca to look as the best contester for a championship. Did these people and teams learn how to do it on the way, or they already knew how to? All they needed was time and racing luck.

During that time only Ferrari was making the headlines for underperformance though, and still does. Everybody understands the reasons by now, and it is not just the pressure from the Italian media.

However, the underperforming Ferrari lost two championships on the last race since Raikonenn’s title, in between the dominant years of Brown GP and RB. Were they underperforming more than say Maca? Who got the most of the critics? Right, Ferrari.

Let’s criticise then Pat, Nikolas and Acer ducts, got bored with realism.

16

“It’s not just a case of us trying to build a quicker car”.

And here was I thinking that the car needed to go faster.

Now I can see that I was wrong.

Maybe someone should tell the drivers as I’m sure that they’re confused by this too.

17

My logic is when it’s a poor design you can only improve it a little. But if it’s good design the improvement becomes easier.

Gosh, Ferrari was like 1.5 secs off the pace. I thought they were only seventh or eight tenths off after Sepang.

Without Alonso Ferrari is a big joke this year.

Alonso must be trying all sorts of juju.

18

The situation at Ferrari is ridiculous, and sad for the whole sport to be honest. Each year they stop development early to focus on next year’s car, only to end up with a mediocre design again.

I really hope they don’t return to the pre-Todd/Brawn/Schumi era, because to be honest they look worse every year. Even the 2007 title and 2010 almost title became possible because others with faster cars managed to shoot themselves on the foot.

I really don’t remember the last time Ferrari were the leaders. In anything… be it the best design, strategy, innovation… They just seem to follow suit constantly, and hence end up always chasing someone.

There is definitely a problem with management, and the longer it takes them to act, the longer it will take to rise to the top again as they watch medfield teams overtake them.

It really makes you wonder what would happen if they did not have Alonso as well, who indeed does miracles with this car. On the other hand maybe this is the problem. Because if they has two Massas, the results would hit them like an avalanche and inevitably they would have to take radical decisions about the team’s future.

19

Pat knows Ferrari will point their finger at him at the end of the season, so he is now covering up for it by pointing out it is Ferrari whole structure of designing cars.

20

Maybe Flavio Briatore is the right man for the Job – And he’s Italian. He seems like a man who has a no nonsense approach and can get their house in order.

21

He’s also Alonso’s manager so if Alonso get his way then it’s a possibility.

22

Briatore is the last person Ferrari need right now…. all he is interested in is woman, money and his designer overalls!

23

I can understand everyone’s reaction to Flavio being mentioned at Ferrari, but claiming his only qualification is his nationality I think does a huge dis-service to the man.

From what I have read, he was a hugely successful businessman setting up the Benetton organisation in America.

Luciano Benetton asked him to run the F1 team in the late 1990 and he turned them from occasional winners into World Champions.

He left in 1997 and was asked back in 2000 by Renault. Again from occasional winners to champions.

He is a questionable character, much like Ecclestone in fact, but you can’t deny that he knows how to run a F1 team.

I think his only crime in F1 has always been the fact that he views it as primarily entertainment, rather than being swallowed up by the whole technology angle

24

…and Crashgate.

The QPR four year plan documentary showed a side to his management which seems at odds with the results he got in F1

25

Yes, Crashgate, but why did the FIA find guilt yet the French Tribunal De Grande overturn the decision?

Was this more Mosley interference against people he didn’t like?

It always struck me as odd that a team would get a driver to crash, without knowing for definite that his team-mate would win. Alonso could have crashed out or broken down anyway.

Also, why was it ok for Williams and Mclaren to work together in Jerez 1997 to beat Ferrari. Isn’t this also interfering with results?

26

Fantastic documentary I thought was amazed at the access they got, wish someone would do the same in F1…

Did make me appreciate Tom Walkinshaw’s role in 94-95 and Pat Symonds in 2005-6 all the more.

27

The only “qualification” Flavio has for the job is the fact that he is Italian.

There have been many periods in the past when the performance of Ferrari has been an embarrassment but we need to put the current situation into perspective :

Historically in terms of lap times the car is not that far behind the leading teams it’s just that the performance of all the established teams is so competitive and close.

This because all the teams have superb people and the cars are so tightly controlled by the current regulations.

Ferrari and (Michael Schumacher) enjoyed a unique period in F1 where the head of the FIA, the format of the regulations and the tyre manufacturer were all particularly favourable to the team.

Add the ruthless and occasionally unsporting organisation of Jean Todt and the genius of Ross Brawn and others and we all saw the results.

Now Ferrari have to compete on merit and that situation can’t ( and shouldn’t ) happen again.

28

Wow! I don’t think so mate.

29

You serious?

30

James, I’m curious, why do you have such a strong opinion that Flavio wouldn’t be the right man for Ferrari?

You think he is too big that he wouldn’t sit well with LdM, or that he simply isn’t much better then Domenicalli?

31

If you knew the personalities involved you wouldn’t even be asking that question!

Plus how would it look for Ferrari to hire someone who’s served the ban he has from the sport for the reasons he did?

32

Ferrari can at least take some solace that so far this year they’ve had the fastest and most consistent pit crew.

33

Definitely true. All four stops within 2/10ths of a second and faster outright than anyone else

34

It must be galling to them that Sauber and that “other” Italian team, Minar… I mean STR, with arguably inferior drivers, are regularly fighting it out with them for positions.

Ofc I suppose it could be these other teams have better gas for their Ferrari engines? ;D

35

Seems to me this is all about them not adapting to the RRA as well as other teams have.

I think their former “methodology” was merely a brute-force approach, spending tons of money.

Not being able to do a billion km of testing at their own track any longer has hurt them more than others.

36

F1’s new buzz word for 2012 – methodologies!!!

37

Looks like it!

38

After reading this article and some of the comments, I searched on Wiki about Ross Brawn and Jean Todt.

Recap, Schumacher and Brawn left at the end of 2006. Kimi came in 2007 when Todt was still team leader and secured the 2007 (the last Ferrari driver world champion). Todt finished to make way for Domenicali in 2008. How things have changed in the Demenicali era!

He was swift to get rid of Kimi to make way for Alonso but kept Massa. Moreover, the technical guys came and went. I wonder how long before Fry becomes the next victim.

Overall, the fundamental change needed is obvious. Get rid of Domenicali!

39
Adrian Newey Jnr

People are very quick to write off Fry. Look at Brawn/Mercedes. It has taken them 3 years to develop their philosophy/structure in order to be a top team. Ferrari cannot expect miracles. Look at what happened to Williams when they pursued that strategy!

My insight is that Ferrari most likely have too many chiefs and not a clear strategy. In the days of Ross and Jean, you had clear lines of command and people with the ability to make an ultimate decision. Perhaps LdM is too hands on with the team, not allowing people like Fry to get on with the job.

James – would Ferrari consider assisting Sauber more this season? Much like Renault do with both RB and Lotus?

40

Why? Sauber is faster at the moment anyway

41

James, do you think the Williams is faster then their drivers. I keep thinking how much time Alonso or Hamilton would bring to the cockpit; Bottas seems quite a bit quicker then Maldonado or Senna (I am not a fan of either).

42

If the team is is systemic trouble, then what was the purpose of Alonso standing there staring out his mechanics in free practice like some sort of Roman emperor? Are they slacking too? I mean, if the car is a crock due to the entire way the team is structured, there aint much the poor mechanics can do about it in free practice.

Seems to me that Ferrari simply stagnated after Brawn and co left. The other team moved on and Ferrari stood still.

As for feeling sorry for Alonso, well, he should have behaved better at McLaren and had the two WDC’s available there.

43

In other words, if you’re the team boss of another top flight team, give all your key staff a payrise pronto!

44
tom in adelaide

It’s not the systems and processes, it’s the people. Ferrari give under-performing personnel far too many chances to redeem themselves. They need to take a chainsaw to the staff list, starting with Massa.

45

I’m feeling really sorry for Alonso. That man should already have a couple more championships under his belt by now.

That must really be frustrating. After 3 years at Ferrari he’s going backwards rather than getting closer.

46

Fry came early during 2011. What was he doing during the development of the 2012 car if he feels fundamentals are wrong now.

This team was winning titles in the early part of 2000’s. They just simply cannot go wrong all of a sudden.

I feel this to be going nowhere. Also Ferrari’s turn around from a problem has been very poor in the past couple of years.

Massa’s situation isn’t helping too.

47

This team was winning titles in the early part of 2000′s. They just simply cannot go wrong all of a sudden.

>> Yup now we know how. All those allegation of collusion with FIA were indeed true, I guess

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