Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has said it is crucial the Scuderia make a strong start to F1 2011.
Although the Maranello-based outfit fought back last season and Fernando Alonso came close to taking the drivers' crown, in the end the Spaniard lost out after a strategic gaff at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Speaking at Ferrari's traditional pre-season 'Wrooom' event, at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in the Italian Dolomites, Montezemolo admitted that that race still gives him nightmares.
“Believe me, I often still wake up at night thinking of the race in Abu Dhabi, but it goes without saying that we must absolutely look to the future [now],” he told Ferrari's official website.
“We are working very hard on the new car. As [Stefano] Domenicali [Ferrari team principal] and I told you back in December, there has been no revolution within our organisation, just a few adjustments aimed at improving the way the team is run.
“We must make a good start, both in terms of reliability and, above all, on the performance front.
“Last year, we lost the championship in a first half that found us failing to live up to our expectations.
“I think this will be a very interesting championship: there are a few question marks regarding the new rules and therefore we will have to wait and see how competitive our rivals are.”
Meanwhile, asked if he agrees with Alonso's assessment that Michael Schumacher could be the main threat this year [see separate story – click here
], Montezemolo added that it is still too soon to make those sorts of predictions.
“I think we must wait for the first few races, but these tales are good for the media and the fans. Alonso says Michael, Felipe [Massa] says [Lewis] Hamilton, maybe Michael will favour [Sebastian] Vettel, so there's nothing new under the sun!
“But, Michael is still close to my heart and part of Ferrari's history and I have no doubt he is still a fantastic driver. His team-mate out-paced him last year? So, sure, there's also [Nico] Rosberg. In fact, I expect three teams, maybe even four to be fighting it out at the top in 2011. Of the new generation of drivers, he is in there as indeed is Vettel.
"But the hierarchy will be established on the stopwatch. Having said that, one problem we don't have is on the driver front: I know who is the best in the world, but I'm not saying.”