Ferrari might have come away with a commanding one-two from the F1 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir at the weekend, but still the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali insists the result can only be graded eight-out-of-ten – with the Italian alluding to a series of 'issues' that need to be dealt with prior to the second outing in Australia in a week-and-a-half's time.
Following long-time race leader Sebastian Vettel's loss of power caused by a faulty spark plug in the Renault engine of the young German's Red Bull Racing RB6, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa swept through unchallenged to comfortably claim the top two steps on the podium in the desert kingdom – earning the Prancing Horse a handy advantage with the new season only just underway.
However, it is not ready to gallop off into the sunset just yet, Domenicali cautions, and there were tell-tale signs over the course of the weekend that all was perhaps not quite as seamless as to the outside world it might have appeared. The engines in both cars were changed as a precautionary measure between qualifying and the grand prix itself, and Massa was forced to back off during the second half of the race as high temperatures and fears about overheating led to excessive fuel consumption for the Brazilian's F10.
“The temperature of the engine is the result of the aerodynamics of the car,” Domenicali revealed of the cooling trouble, “so we have to work on that in order to make sure we don't have any more of these kinds of issues for the next hot races.
“Of course, the result at the end was excellent – first and second places in the first race was really an outstanding achievement for the team – but we have seen that the list of problems is quite high. We need to address them all, and make sure that they are solved before the start of the next weekend in Australia.”
There is also speculation that Ferrari is developing a 'B-spec' car incorporating a new, innovative diffuser – designed by former Toyota CFD guru Giuseppe Azzollini, and based upon a concept that was due to be fitted to the TF110 that never ultimately raced. Regardless of any future advances in pace and performance, though, the two scarlet machines already look to be in fine fettle indeed this year.
“For sure, the incredible result has given all the people [at the factory] in Maranello a great [sense of] relief,” Domenicali acknowledged. “It was a big emotional push, because we had a very difficult winter-time and don't forget how our season was last year. Saying that, we know we have completed only the first race, and the season is very, very, very long.
“I would say a good signal that we have seen is that for sure the car is competitive – but it is in the same field as the other competitors that want to win the championship. We know that already at the next grand prix in Melbourne the situation could be different. At least this is a different starting-point [to 2009], though, from which we can do good things.”