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Q&A with Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali 24 May 2009

Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 23 April 2009 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 24 May 2009 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 24 May 2009 Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director; Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal and Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer leave the FOTA meeting.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Friday, 22 May 2009

Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix was the first race of the season to put a smile on the faces at Ferrari, particularly that of Kimi Raikkonen, who scored the team’s first podium of 2009. Team principal Stefano Domenicali is convinced the Italian squad is now on the right development path, though he’s equally concerned about finding a prompt resolution to the teams’ dispute with the FIA over next year’s rules…

Q: Finally a podium finish. Do you now see the team as being back on track?
Stefano Domenicali:
Well, at least two cars in the high points - that was a very important step. What I was always saying is that for me the most important thing is that we’ve shown the people that we are totally committed to the job. For sure, it is not easy that very moment when you hear all around that you have to cut back dramatically so someone is thinking that we could lose hundreds of workplaces - and for that we have to be very careful. So it is very important to thank all our staff as they are working flat-out in order to recover performance. The work that we did has been confirmed here, as it shows that the work we are doing is going in the right direction. Sure we need to improve in Turkey, but for now at least we can see that we are a little bit closer to the cars that have been in front of us. This race is a good sign and a motivation boost for our people.

Q: In what areas in particular are you thinking that you have to improve?
SD:
For sure downforce is the most important thing that we have to recover - that seems to be the biggest problem. I am sure in Turkey we should have addressed that problem and I am pretty sure that there we will have made a step forward again. This is racing and this is what we love in racing: the others are challenging you and you try to react to show who is the fastest to recover.

Q: Can you confirm that you received two warnings from the FIA because of Massa taking too much kerb through the chicanes?
SD:
What I can say is that there have been discussions that you have to pay attention in order to stay in the chicanes at least with one wheel on the track. When we saw that, it was within a normal communication with race control and the team. It was simply a call to pay attention, nothing else.

Q: The cars have been much more reliable this weekend. Have you changed the system of how you work? What have you changed?
SD:
Of course we have done some modifications in terms of the way that we are working, but that is a normal process that a normal industry has to do day-by-day. But, for sure, not any dramatic or catastrophic changes.

Q: It seems that you had a bit of a problem with the tyres…
SD:
There was a bit of a time loss at Kimi’s pit stop due to a problem with his right rear tyre.

Q: Do you think that you have passed Red Bull Racing and are now the second best team?
SD:
Today for sure, but I don’t know to be honest. They are very strong even if they had a couple of problems today. But you know me - I never underestimate any of our competitors, especially not someone who did a good job at the beginning of the season. But for sure we have closed the gap and this weekend has proved that we are on the right way.

Q: This coming week will be very important for Formula One racing there has been talk of the technical rules for 2010 being the same as this year’s. Can you say something about that?
SD:
We have asked to go back to the 2009 rules and then see what we can do together, what we can do to change them next year. For sure the costs are something that all the teams are fully committed to work on, but as I said before the costs are related to the business of the teams. We know what we can invest, we know what we can do and I think this is something that the teams have to discuss internally and decide on their own what they can afford, to keep the value of Formula One at the standard that we know. It is something that we feel should not be imposed on us by someone else.

Q: FIA President Max Mosley said that he is optimistic that a solution can be found this week. Can it happen by Friday or will it take longer to sort out?
SD:
I don’t know. I mean the points that we’ve put on the table are very clear and I think we raised the issue of the (cost) cap and this weekend’s talks have been very constructive. For sure this will be a very important week, as the formal entries to next year’s championship have to be finalized by Friday. We have some long days ahead of us!