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Ferrari: We’re pleased with our pace, but remain realistic 04 Feb 2010

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Valencia, Spain, Wednesday 3 February 2010. Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 16 October 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F10. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari (Left). Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010.

The performance of Ferrari during this week’s Valencia test may have prompted many to speculate that they are the team to beat, but team principal Stefano Domenicali is eager to downplay the Italian squad’s perceived dominance. And while he’s clearly pleased with their progress, he’s determined they stay level headed, as March’s Bahrain season opener draws closer.

Between them, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso controlled the top of the timesheets throughout the three-day test at the Spanish track. They were the only men to break through the 1m 12s barrier, with local hero Alonso clocking a best time of 1m 11.470s and Massa a quickest run of 1m 11.722s. Domenicali, however, is hesitant to celebrate the F10’s domination just yet.

"We know very well that test lap times, especially this year, have to be handled with care,” he told Ferrari’s official website. "There are no miracles in Formula One. If you want to be fast you have to work hard for months and months and then you’ll meet your competitors, who have just as much capacity and motivation as you. We can’t take anything for granted and we shouldn’t delude ourselves by indications, which could be completely misleading.”

The Italian instead counsels caution.

“We can’t forget where we were in terms of performance at the last Grand Prix,” he continued. “There is still a lot of work to do to close the gap, and there are still many problems we have to solve. We don’t know the fuel loads the other cars had on board, so it’s impossible to get a clear idea of the relative strengths on the track. Maybe someone wants to play hide and seek, and some are yet to present their cars.”

In spite of his wariness about where Ferrari stand in relation to their rivals, Domenicali was thrilled with the performance and work ethic of his two drivers, and praised the in-depth feedback the Ferrari engineers have received from the duo.

"They were both very happy with how things went,” he explained. “They are both extremely motivated and have a great desire to drive. It would have been frustrating if we hadn’t started on the right track here. Both, Felipe and Fernando, know that we have to work a lot and they already gave many indications where we have to improve the car."

Domenicali was also pleased with the F10’s consistency. The 2010 car managed to avoid the reliability issues that befell the BMW Sauber and Toro Rosso teams, and completed a total of 353 laps of the Valencia track.

"If there is one thing we’re really satisfied with then it’s the reliability the car has shown,” he concluded. “The fact we have driven more than 1,400 kilometres is very good start, and we need to ensure that the intense work at the test, and in terms of simulations over the weeks before the debut on the track, bears fruit.”

Ferrari will be back in action next week as a four-day test at the Spanish circuit of Jerez gets underway from Wednesday.