Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has warned that the Scuderia has to begin the 2011 F1 season with all guns blazing as it is unlikely to get another chance to reel in rivals as it did this season.
Despite winning the opening round of the 2010 campaign, with debutant Fernando Alonso, in Bahrain, Ferrari fell away as McLaren and Red Bull set the early championship pace, not returning to the top step of the podium until the controversial German Grand Prix in July. Heading into that race, Alonso insisted that he would still be world champion, despite being 47 points adrift after Silverstone, and the Scuderia pulled out all the stops to make it happen, winning three of the remaining eight races and returning Alonso to the podium in three others, before eventually coming up two points short after leading the standings into the Abu Dhabi finale.
Domenicali admitted that 2011 was unlikely to give the team another chance - with McLaren and Red Bull both having two drivers in the championship race and taking points off each other - and claimed that everyone at Maranello was working hard to ensure that it could be successful from the off.
“When our technical director, Aldo Costa, spoke of extreme design, he wanted to spur all our engineers to push on the theme of innovation which, in F1, means exploring all areas right up to the limits set by the regulations," he noted, "It is a difficult challenge, because we operate in a very competitive environment. We know that, in 2011, we will have to start off immediately with a car capable of winning, so that we are not always having to catch up, as was the case this year.”
The Italian also hinted that there would be changes in the set-up at Maranello in an effort to combat the sort of error that ultimately cost Alonso the world title.
“We will make adjustments, but they will only be revealed at the right moment," he confirmed, "From a technical point of view, we must try not to repeat the mistakes which occasionally led us to take a step backwards rather than forwards.
"In order to succeed, we are working with alacrity and without let up. Next season will be very long and we cannot allow ourselves not to make the most of our potential at every race. In 2010, especially in the early stages, we missed opportunities to pick up valuable points and we paid heavily for that at the final reckoning.”
Despite the efforts being put in behind the scenes at Maranello, however, there was still a chance for some festive fun, as staff and their families packed out a marquee erected next to the Centro Sviluppo Prodotto, complete with a temporary fairground.
The group also got to watch a show inspired by Geronimo Stilton, the mouse detective who is a big favourite with children in Italy, but the highlight of the show were special guests Luca di Montezemolo and drivers Alonso, Felipe Massa, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jules Bianchi, Marc Gené and Luca Badoer, all of whom dressed up as Father Christmas. The sextet handed out gifts at the garage where Santa keeps his sleigh, under the watchful eye of two reindeer.