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Ferrari doubtful of a podium finish in Australia 05 Mar 2012

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Pat Fry (GBR) Ferrari Technical Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 25 November 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari watches Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 3 March 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 3 March 2012 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 4 March 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 3, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 3 March 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 2 March 2012

Ferrari technical boss Pat Fry has conceded that the team are unlikely to finish on the podium at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix later this month. After wrapping up the final winter test in Barcelona on Sunday, Fry admitted the new F2012 had failed to meet expectations and that they must work very hard back in Maranello to extract more performance from the car before it’s too late.

“In the hunt for the podium in Melbourne? At the moment I’d say no,” Fry told Ferrari’s official website. “We are disappointed with the performance level seen at these tests and I think we have a lot of work ahead of us.

“In testing, you can only make assumptions regarding what fuel loads the other cars are running and it will only be in Melbourne that we will get a clear answer as to whether we have to be very disappointed or just a little, how far we really are off the front runners and consequently how much ground we have to make up to get there.”

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have laboured at the three pre-season tests to find a consistent level of performance from the F2012, but have topped the timesheets just once. With the new car full of radical solutions, including innovative front pull-rod suspension, both have found it a difficult charge to master.

Midway through testing Ferrari also introduced a new exhaust position to boost rear downforce but, according to Fry, the solution appears to have hindered rather than helped progress.

“Clearly the decision relating to the exhausts that we took last week meant we took a few steps backwards in terms of development,” Fry continued. “How much? Difficult to say right now. We have been working on the current configuration for really just two weeks. We found a bit of performance but there’s no doubt that the original solution is the one that gives the most.

“I think we can claw back, at best, at least 25 percent of the downforce we had last year, even if we need to see what that costs us in fuel consumption and corner turn-in stability. At the moment it’s still causing us problems, but it’s the most obvious way to try and improve performance and increase aerodynamic downforce. We will continue to work on it, as indeed will all the others.”

With just 10 days to go before the Australian race weekend gets underway, Ferrari have returned to their Maranello factory to continue work. But with their rivals doing just the same, Fry doesn’t hold out much hope of noticeable improvement before Melbourne and is instead waiting for May’s multi-team test at Mugello - four races into the season - to enact greater change.

“We must improve in general the level of aerodynamic downforce on the car, but we are well aware that the pace of development is more or less the same for everyone,” he concluded. “We will have a few updates for Melbourne, basically aimed at readapting the car to the exhaust configuration we have chosen to run for at least the first four races of the season. (But) the Mugello test will be useful to try new parts, because it is always difficult to introduce major developments during a race weekend.”

The 2012 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix takes place on March 16-18.

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