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Ferrari: Conservative approach has been our undoing 04 May 2011

Nikolas Tombazis, Ferrari Chief Designer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 3 April 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 17 April 2011 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 150 Italia. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 17 April 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 17 April 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 17 April 2011

Without a single podium finish from the opening three rounds and with the 150˚ Italia struggling to match the pace of the front running Red Bulls and McLarens, Ferrari’s 2011 season hasn’t got off to the best of starts.

For the Italian team’s chief designer Nikolas Tombazis it’s been a trying time, but after a few weeks closeted in the factory carrying out investigations, the reasons behind their lack of performance have come into focus.

In an interview with Ferrari’s official online magazine, Tombazis admits the issues are chiefly aerodynamic and stem from a far too conventional design approach, as well as a disconnect between the data gleaned from the wind tunnel and the reality of what drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa experience on track.

“We are going through a difficult period and there is no point denying that our start to the season was a disappointing one,” he said. “The problem is linked mainly to the aerodynamics and can be divided into two parts. The first revolves around a lack of correlation between data from the wind tunnel and that seen at the track, and we are reacting to correct this problem. Furthermore, we must admit that, even without this problem, we would not have been in a position to fight for the wins in the first three races.

"We have tried to see if our approach was too conservative and we realised that, for various reasons, we were neither reactive nor aggressive enough in the development stages. At the moment, we don’t have a winning car and, on those of our competitors we can see innovative solutions introduced in a more aggressive fashion than we have done. Maybe we were a bit too passive in our approach. We did not push hard enough in some areas of development and unfortunately, the results can be seen on track.”

Having accepted the reasons behind their under-performance, Ferrari are now focused on improving their lot by changing the way they work and assuming a much more inventive approach to design.

“We want to rediscover the spirit of innovation which maybe we have lost a bit over the past two years,” explained Tombazis. “We have had a disappointing start to the season. In order to recover from it, I think it is important to understand what mistakes we made and we have analysed this with much honesty and open mindedness. I am therefore convinced that we can get back to winning again.

“We have made some adjustments to our working practices to try and focus much more on car performance: we have changed the working practice in the wind tunnel and in terms of the development of the aerodynamic design side. Based on this, I expect that the results of these changes should be seen in the upcoming races.”

Despite time constraints, Tombazis revealed the 150˚ Italia will feature several updates at this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix.

"We will have new wings, both front and rear, and new brake ducts," he said. "Last week, we ran an aero test with Jules Bianchi at Vairano. I can’t say if this step forward will be enough, but I do expect to see the consequences of this change in approach over the next few races, because clearly, if we want to close the gap, we have to do something over and above the norm.”

The revised cars will make their public debut at Istanbul Park this weekend, as Alonso and Massa take to the track for Practice One on Friday morning.

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