It may have yet to record a podium in 2011, and be only third best in the constructors' standings behind Red Bull and McLaren, but Ferrari's Aldo Costa is confident that the Prancing Horse can be a factor in the championship battle.
Speaking after Fernando Alonso claimed another fifth place qualifying position, this time in Turkey, Costa admitted that trailing Sebastian Vettel by eight-tenths of a second was far from satisfactory, but insisted that, after some concerted work back at Maranello, there were finally signs of progress.
“We tried a lot of things yesterday in free practice, some aimed at this weekend, others for future development,” the Scuderia's technical director told journalists, “Specifically, we tried various front wing configurations, a new rear wing, a new design for our car of front brake ducts and a floor. There will be other new parts in Barcelona, where I expect we can make an even bigger step forward.
"When will we start winning again? I hope it's soon. We would like to be back to being in the fight for the win in the next few races.”
Costa has already suggested that, aside from being too conservative with its 2011 design, Ferrari may be being misled by its wind tunnel [see story here
], and the team has made use of the Toyota tunnel in Cologne as a means of comparing data. While the Maranello tunnel is scheduled for an overhaul, it won't come in time to make a difference to the programme, although Costa insists the facility can still help make Ferrari a contender.
“It's not that unusual but, obviously, when it happens at Ferrari, it creates a lot more interest,” Costa claimed, “We have had to re-examine something in our structure and also in the design of the windtunnel itself, but I would not want to go into too many details.
"On top of that, we have an intensive renewal programme which will be completed after the summer break, around September and October. However, this does not mean the windtunnel won't be working in the meantime - in fact, it will be fully operational. We have understood and resolved various problems and we continue to work on improving the whole structure.”
A recent Corriere della Sera
interview with chief designer Nikolas Tombazis analysed the current difficulties that the Scuderia is experiencing, and Costa was not about to shy away from the issue.
“At a critical time like this, one has to come up with new ideas and set new objectives, changing our approach,” he said, “It needs new input because when one works for so many years on the same thing, you can lose sight of the bigger picture and maybe it's better to make a change. That does not necessarily mean that heads must roll but, if anything, we should give a new direction to people's jobs.
"We have great confidence in the people who work in Maranello. We have highly skilled engineers, they make up a very united group and are reacting in the right way to this crisis.”