Domenicali: retaining focus key to Ferrari recovery 24 Apr 2009
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali admitted on Thursday that the Scuderia must act quickly to kick off their world championship points tally this weekend. Not only has this been their worst start to a season in decades, but to exacerbate the problem it is their former architect of success Ross Brawn whose team lead the standings.
He outlined how they plan to turn things around.
"For me the most important thing is that back home at the factory people stay totally focused. In each of the three races so far there have been some situations that have affected all of the areas of the company, operations, reliability and performance. Each department head must focus on their area to get us back to our usual standard.
"We must react very, very quickly. The championship has just begun and we have seen one day to another how things can change. We are pushing as hard as we can. The important thing from those first three races is that even if we could not perform to our maximum level we should have been able to score points."
Ferrari's performance inevitably suffered, like McLaren's, from the prolonged title fight last year. "It's an easy mathematical equation: the time you didn't spend working in the wind tunnel on the 2009 car, in order to win in 2008, becomes the reason why we are behind now. Full stop. It's not an excuse, just a choice that we made."
Former champion Niki Lauda was recently quoted as criticising Ferrari's Italian nature and suggested that was the reason why success this season has been elusive. "I take it very personally when people suggest that because we are Italians we cannot get things to work properly," Domenicali said. "We have won titles and races in the past with fundamentally the same team."
Then, of course, there is the vexed issue of two-tier diffusers. Ferrari will have one in time for Spanish Grand Prix, early in May. This will be designed around the F60's existing rear end, with the hydraulics rearranged to suit. However, a 'mark two' version with a revised transmission and rear suspension may also be developed depending on how successful the interim version proves.
Domenicali stressed that there would not be a second new car, however. "We cannot afford to do that, and it would be too complex and too late," he said.
"This is a very important race," he reiterated of Bahrain."We need to move off zero points, but also to avoid panic. To be honest, this is our strength. Our people are very motivated and nobody feels negative when they read in successive weeks in the media after each race that this is Ferrari's worst start to a season since 1982, then 1981, then 1969. We don't spend our time looking back, we look ahead."
He appreciates the size of the mountain Ferrari have to climb. And what he has to be to help his people, even Michael Schumacher.
"Michael is part of us and is very important for our group. At certain moments he can be heavy because of his personality, but his positives far outweigh his negatives.
"As for the others, I cannot be an engineer, but for sure an important part of my job is to be a psychologist."
"I think the F60 is a good car," Felipe Massa suggested on Thursday, "but we just need to find some more grip."
Kimi Raikkonen added: "For sure I want to score points but I don't feel any pressure. We try to do our best every time and unfortunately we haven't managed to score any points so far. We are all one team and we all don't feel so good when we have bad races but that's how it is right now unfortunately. We do the best that we can here and hopefully we get some points.
"Things change quickly in Formula One, we know that. There are new rules. Of course we had pretty good winter testing. We probably saw in the last test that we were not where we wanted to be, exactly, but it hasn't been the start of the season that we were looking for as a team but we just need to work harder and improve the situation and get back to where we want to be. We know that we can do it but it takes a while. That's unfortunately the situation where we are."