Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted the Scuderia is still 'lagging behind' when it comes to utilising the harder of the Pirelli tyre compounds and he has blamed this issue for the failure to get a podium in Belgium.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa both looked strong in the opening stages of the twelfth round in the F1 2011 World Championship. However once they switched to the medium compound tyres, their challenge faltered.
Indeed Alonso eventually slipped back to fourth – passed late on by both Mark Webber and Jenson Button, while Felipe Massa struggled even more and could manage only eighth.
“We definitely cannot claim to be happy with this result, but we must evaluate it objectively, without letting emotion get the better of us,” Domenicali said post-race. “We saw our car perform in two different ways, depending on what tyres it was running: very good on the Soft, especially with Fernando, but definitely lacking with the Medium.
“This explains how Fernando, who delivered an extraordinary performance, taking the lead and fighting for the win in the first stint, then gradually saw what would have been a very well deserved podium place slip from his grasp.
“Felipe began his race in a very aggressive fashion, but then he paid an even heavier price for our chronic difficulties on the harder tyre. The Safety Car definitely did not help, coming out just as our main rivals were struggling the most, which meant they could make up for their initial handicap. [But] we know what is our Achilles Heel and we have to continue to work on it: we have made up ground in some areas, but on this one – I refer to the ideal window of operation for the tyres – we are still lagging behind.”
Technical director Pat Fry was similarly disappointed and concurred that the problem running on the harder tyres still persists: “We are not happy and how could we be at the end of a race in which we were fighting for a podium finish right up to the final stages. Unfortunately, we are still seeing a drop in performance on the hard compound tyres, which is too much when up against our main rivals,” he lamented. “It's a problem we have still not managed to fix and which is even more accentuated once the temperature is rather low.
“It's disappointing for our drivers, as we have not been able to put them in a position to fight at their best in every type of condition. From a strategic point of view, certainly the arrival on track of the Safety Car did not work in our favour and I don't think that we could have made any different choices compared to the ones we went with. If Fernando had copied [Sebastian] Vettel, he would have come back out on track in traffic and would have lost the chance to attack for the top spot.
“After that, there was no point splitting the second part of Fernando's race in two, thus using a third and final set of Softs, because we would definitely have finished fourth with no hope of fighting for something better.
“Now [though] we must prepare as well as possible for Monza, the Scuderia's home race.”