Anticipation is growing ahead of the start of the 2013 World Championship – and expectations about Scuderia Ferrari’s performance are growing too. That is only natural after a month of encouraging tests and the calmness displayed by the two big players, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who will return to action in the F138 at Melbourne’s Albert Park in little over a week. We will have to wait until March 16, the day of qualifying, to be able to make the first real evaluations of the performances of the cars. Given the stability of the technical regulations this year, predictions have rarely been such a futile and casual exercise.
But if you apply a certain logic, which goes beyond the excitement and the hopes generated by the start of every new season, it’s hard to imagine that the teams who were competitive last year won’t be up there this year too. Asked about the beginning of the season, Scuderia Ferrari’s Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said: “To think of drawing conclusions after the first qualifying session in Australia would be premature because it represents only the beginning of a long voyage that ends in November. For many reasons, however, it can be considered an important test bench to establish the state of play. I expect that the teams who finished in the top positions in Sao Paulo will repeat that in Melbourne, probably with a reduced advantage – that’s what we are all hoping for, anyway. What are the factors that have convinced me that Ferrari has made a step forward? The new business structure, the working methods, the modifications to the equipment that we have used to work on this car, the consistency of the results compared with our targets and what we saw in the recent tests – these all seem to tell us that we are on the right path at last compared to the past. So, to make an analysis that is purely centred on ourselves, unless someone else has done an exceptional job I’m convinced that Ferrari will be in the battle to the end. A podium in Australia would be a good base on which to build the kind of successes we need. What’s more, apart from the actual performance of the car, our work in the wind tunnel is an element that gives us faith in the area of aerodynamics, where 90% of the performance comes from, so we can work with a certain calmness. The stability of the rules is another guarantee that there won’t be surprises with any exceptional creative solutions that make a big difference, and I’m especially confident given the changes we made last year.”
As for the competition during the year, Domenicali added: “I’m sure that over the course of the season the competition will reduce because the demands on all the teams for the 2014 project cannot be underestimated. We are talking about a car that is completely different to what we’ve seen before and there’s a risk of missing the boat: the smaller the organisation, the greater and the earlier the resources they will have to invest in the new project. Meanwhile for the big teams, the exercise will be to balance the resources required to keep up the development to be competitive right to the end with the attention that needs to be dedicated to 2014 to avoid the risk of being left behind.”