Ferrari: 'Not fastest, but close'
DOM AND THE BOYS: Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali with 2013 team drivers Felipe Massa (left) and Fernando Alonso. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
LONDON, England - Ferrari is unlikely to have the fastest car when the 2013 Formula 1 season starts in Australia in March but hopes to be close enough for driver Fernando Alonso to make a difference.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali said at a Motor Sport magazine Hall of Fame event in London on February 25: "The situation seems to be all right, all right with the programme we have. The target is to be close to the leading cars... I would be very surprised if it was the quickest (car) at the first race but if we are all close together in a couple of tenths, then the season is really long and everything is possible."
Ferrari started 2012 with a car that was tricky to drive and some way off the pace but Alonso kept the team in the hunt with some remarkable drives while the team pulled out all the stops to narrow the performance gap.
'BAD NEWS' CALL
By mid-season the Spaniard had a comfortable lead in the championship that was then eroded in the latter half by a resurgent Sebastian Vettel who reeled off a string of wins for Red Bull. The result was Vettel's third consecutive title but the German and Alonso were still fighting for it all the way to the final race in Brazil.
Domenicali said the situation was very different from February 2012 when Brazilian Felipe Massa first tested the F2012 and rang Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo to tell him the bad news.
"It's another world," said Domenicali. "It's a totally different situation but we cannot underestimate that everyone is doing a good job, and as far as we can see from the tests I don't see a lot of changes in respect of what we saw at the end (of last year)."
Eight drivers from four teams - Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Lotus - have been fastest over the eight days of testing in Spain although the Red Bull drivers have also sounded happy with their car's performance.
Domenicali said the biggest challenge all teams faced in the first few races would be the different Pirelli tyres, designed to degrade quicker and create more pit stops.
"We need to make sure we are close to the best car and then the team and drivers have to make the difference," he added. "In Australia it is not the end of the championship, it's just the start. We need to be careful and stay cool."
The season will start in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17.