Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has confessed his fears that just one more engine failure for Fernando Alonso this season would make it 'tremendously difficult' and perhaps even 'almost impossible' for the Spaniard to continue to do battle for the F1 2010 drivers' crown.
Ahead of this weekend's inaugural Korean Grand Prix – for which he has qualified third, behind the dominant Red Bulls once more – Alonso sits 14 points in arrears of world championship leader Mark Webber in the title standings, and level with second-placed Sebastian Vettel.
That being the case, the Oviedo native can ill-afford to concede any more ground to the pair – but he also has a shadow hanging over him in that he has already reached the eight-engine limit for a single campaign, causing Ferrari to doggedly eke out mileage from previously-used units in a desperate bid not to have to resort to a ninth, which would result in a ten-place grid penalty. Domenicali admits that it is a very real cause for concern.
“I really hope not,” the Scuderia's
team principal is quoted as having said by British newspaper The Guardian
, when asked if another failure is likely to occur. “If that happens, then it will be tremendously difficult to fight to the end. What we have been able to do is manage the mileage with existing engines, and this is our plan. Hopefully, we will manage up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“If we have any reliability issues it will be really traumatic, as it would be almost impossible then to recover the points we would need if we want to continue to fight with Red Bull and McLaren. We cannot really have any problems, otherwise it is finished.”
One aspect that will scarcely aid Ferrari's effort, the Italian acknowledges, is the warmer conditions that are expected to greet the F1 circus in the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, compared to the cooler climes in Korea.
“It is a matter of how much mileage you can do on an engine,” Domenicali explained. “This is the only thing. We have extended the use of it, but we need to be careful not to overheat anything and that in terms of temperature, we are not aggressive. This is something we need to make sure above all for the hot races that we will have after Korea.”