Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says he is pleased with performance of the new F60 ahead of the first round of the Formula One season, although he admits that there is still work to be done to improve reliability.
In the hands of both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, the F60 has proved to be fast but somewhat fragile during the winter, including during this week's running in Barcelona where Raikkonen was quickest on day two before a KERS issue forced the Scuderia
to end its planned grand prix weekend simulation work.
With that in mind, Domenicali admitted that reliability was still a cause for concern for the team ahead of Melbourne and said his squad would 'have to work harder' to improve things for the new season.
“Over the last days I've been to Barcelona to follow the last stages of the test sessions and I've seen a very concentrated and determined team,” he said. “We're satisfied with the level of our car as far as the performance is concerned. It's obvious that we still have some work to do and that we have to concentrate on its reliability. Last year we've seen how important reliability and the smallest details are: we have to work much harder in this direction.
“Like never before I'm expecting a very difficult season. Many changes have been introduced as far as the regulations are concerned. Planning the car we had to start from scratch. In this case time plays an even more important role: who, like us and our main competitors, was working until the last moment on the development of the 2008 car, might have a slight disadvantage compared to those who gave up last year and dedicated themselves and their resources to a new project.”
Domenicali admitted it was difficult to make too many predictions about where Ferrari stands in relation to its competitors following the winter testing but became the latest figure to express surprise at the pace shown in Barcelona by the Brawn GP outfit.
“I don't want you to think that I'm avoiding an answer, but it's more difficult than ever to say anything about the levels on the track,” he said. “Until a couple of days ago there was a great equilibrium between the different teams - some expected and some a bit less - and then there was Brawn GP's exploit; their performance was incredibly surprising and they have to be watched with care.
“We think that we're part of the more competitive teams, but there are still many unknown factors to consider: we have to wait for Melbourne to get the answers.”