Stefano Domenicali has acknowledged that Ferrari needs to 'take a close, hard look at reality' as it licks its wounds from a frustrating double retirement in the 2009 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last weekend – well aware that it has 'a lot of tough competition out there' this year.
Far from just being up against traditional rivals McLaren-Mercedes and BMW-Sauber for glory as it was last year, the Scuderia
has this season found the formbook turned quite literally on its head, with a grid Down Under that few could have accurately foreseen. The F60 was arguably only the fifth-quickest machine in the pack, behind the Red Bull Racing RB5, Toyota TF109, Williams FW31 and astonishing Brawn GP BGP 001 – and a failure to finish for both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen only served to rub salt into the wounds.
Leaving Albert Park empty-handed for the second year in succession, the scarlet brigade knows it must react – and react quickly. Having both slipped down the order with tyre trouble following a bright start, Massa ultimately dropped out of the reckoning with suspension woes and former Formula 1 World Champion Raikkonen dumped his car into the circuit barriers only ten laps later. The same kind of abject performance cannot, Domenicali warns, be allowed to repeat itself in the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang in five days' time.
“We will have a chance to come back,” Ferrari's team principal is quoted as having said by Italian news agency ANSA
, “on the condition that we take a close, hard look at reality and realise that we have a lot of tough competition out there.
“This year is going to be a lot rougher. Brawn GP is very, very fast, strong and consistent – but I'm cautious by nature and we've only had one race so far. Since there are 16 left to go, I don't think we need to pack it in just yet.
“Sepang is different to Melbourne, especially in regard to grip. The race should give us a pretty clear indication of where we stand, given that in less than a week we can't make any major aerodynamic changes.”
To make matters even worse for Ferrari, Brawn GP's incredible success has come courtesy of Ross Brawn – the man who played a vital role in masterminding all seven of the legendary Michael Schumacher's F1 drivers' crowns and six straight constructors' titles for the Maranello-based outfit in the top flight from 2000 to 2005.