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Domenicali: Ferrari cannot risk playing catch-up 15 Jan 2009

Stefano Domenicali (ITA), Ferrari Manager of F1 Operations, talks to the media in a press conference. Wrooom F1 Press Ski Meeting 2009, Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino, Italy. 13-14 January 2009. A Ferrari F1 car in the Alpine snow. Wrooom F1 Press Ski Meeting 2009, Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino, Italy. 13-14 January 2009. Felipe Massa(BRA), Ferrari. Wrooom F1 Press Ski Meeting 2009, Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino, Italy. 13-14 January 2009. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) and Marc Gene (ESP), Ferrari. Wrooom F1 Press Ski Meeting 2009, Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino, Italy. 13-14 January 2009.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali believes it essential that the new F60 is quick ‘straight out of the box’ if the team are to successfully defend their constructors’ world title. With so many rule changes being introduced for the 2009 season - and with testing banned once the championship gets underway in March - Domenicali says Ferrari must be on the pace from day one.

"We started with a project, which is not an evolution of last year's car,” he said at Ferrari’s ‘Wrooom’ media event. “Therefore it will be fundamental to be immediately competitive and to invest in reliability and in simulation, which is very useful, because the results can also be used in the road car production."

Domenicali’s thinking is reflected in the fact that Ferrari were first to launch their 2009 machine, even if the Italian team may be lagging behind their rivals in certain areas, such as the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, optional for 2009.

"I think that this season will be extremely competitive, while our main competitors are McLaren and BMW, and also Renault has done a lot of work," said the Italian, who has openly admitted he would have liked to have seen the introduction of KERS delayed.

One thing Domenicali has total confidence in is his drivers, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. He praised Massa’s stellar 2008 campaign and predicted that Raikkonen would be back on form in ’09 after the disappointment of last season.

“I've met a very fresh and motivated Felipe Massa. He matured a lot over the last season,” he said. “His strong point over these years was, that he always believed in himself. I think he's mentally ready and mature enough to manage the pressure, from inside and outside.

“Kimi Raikkonen can't wait to get back into the car and he'll have the possibility at (next week’s test at) Portimao. He wants to show that he's himself again, after President Montezemolo's joke, that it was his twin brother driving by the end of the season."

Ferrari begin their first full test of the F60 alongside their main rivals at Portugal’s Algarve Motor Park near Portimao next Monday.