Ferrari is currently 'paying the price' for its success in Formula 1 last year, reckons the Scuderia's
president Luca di Montezemolo – who conceded that there were 'a few mistakes too many' in an Australian Grand Prix performance last weekend that transpired to be 'a lot worse' than had been anticipated.
Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen qualified respectively a low-key seventh and ninth in Melbourne prior to the Toyotas' demotion – albeit well ahead of traditional rivals McLaren-Mercedes, who are similarly suffering for having pushed right to the end of the 2008 campaign on development of last year's car rather than the new model.
From there, despite a bright start, the two scarlet machines disappeared from contention within ten laps of each other, Massa touring into retirement three-quarters of the way through with a broken left front nose support and Raikkonen dumping the sister F2009 into the Albert Park wall almost within sight of the chequered flag.
It was a showing that the Maranello-based outfit's team principal Stefano Domenicali deemed 'not worthy' of the multiple F1 world champions [see separate story – click here
], and di Montezemolo accepted that it had been a 'strange' race – revealing that he hopes for substantially better in Sepang this weekend.
“I expect to see the real strengths of the teams on a less strange circuit than Melbourne, as is the Malaysian track,” the Italian affirmed, speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport
. “I think the first race went a lot worse than what we and I had expected.”
di Montezemolo added that in his belief the concerted title push right to the bitter end of last season was now showing in Ferrari and McLaren's struggles early on in 2009 – but he remains confident of bouncing back, and bouncing back fast.
“There's no doubt we're paying the price for the 2008 championship,” the 61-year-old acknowledged, “which ended at the last turn of the last lap of the last race.
“We, like McLaren, had to develop the car to the end, while the others were already able, for several months, to work on a completely new project. Let's not forget that this year's car isn't an evolution, so those who had the time have been able to gain an even bigger advantage.
“I think we made a few mistakes too many in Australia. I'm convinced – in fact I'm totally sure – that there will be a strong reaction, even though the cars are the same.”