Stefano Domenicali has confirmed that Ferrari has given up hope of fighting for the F1 2011 World Championship with just six races left to run, revealing that 'we have stopped the development' of the F150° Italia in favour of turning all efforts towards its successor.
After taking the chequered flag third on Ferrari's home turf in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza last weekend – some 17 seconds adrift of race-winner and world champion-elect Sebastian Vettel – Fernando Alonso conceded defeat in the title chase, languishing as he does a gaping 112 points behind his Red Bull Racing rival [see separate story – click here
Now, the Scuderia's
team principal has echoed those sentiments, with an exhaust upgrade that failed to yield the anticipated performance boost at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza in recent weeks having brought the momentum sparked by Alonso's British Grand Prix victory two months ago – Ferrari's lone triumph of the season to-date – to a shuddering halt. Whilst he is hopeful of a stronger effort in Singapore in just over a week's time, Domenicali reflects that the larger battle is now over.
“We have stopped the development [of the car],” the Italian resignedly told BBC Sport
. “It is very, very, very, very, very difficult now. We were expecting a bigger step in our development at Spa. Unfortunately, we discovered it was the opposite so we took a step back, and that was also a step back for Monza.”
Two of the chief issues for Ferrari this year have been an inability to correctly interpret wind tunnel data to translate across to the racetrack, and a persistent difficulty in generating temperature from Pirelli's harder-compound tyres.
A comparative lack of 'absolute downforce' has similarly been a weakness, and chassis director Pat Fry – the man rumoured to have been the brains behind McLaren's swiftly-copied F-duct creation of last year – is well aware that hitting the ground running right from the outset in 2012, rather than playing catch-up as has been the case of late, will be pivotal to the Prancing Horse's chances of successfully taking on and beating Red Bull and its technical genius Adrian Newey, alongside whom he worked at McLaren back in the 1990s.
“The stability [in the regulations] should help,” he mused, adding that small innovations will continue to be brought to the F150° Italia with a view to testing them out ahead of next season, “but it does not mean that automatically you will be able to catch up your opponents. We know we have a gap to recover in terms of performance, and we need an extra effort to get rid of it – this is one of the main targets of the winter-time.
“Adrian's Red Bulls have been the quickest cars in the last two or three years, [but] to be honest, I do not think this is a man-against-man sport, not at all. It is a very complex sport in which a very talented engineer cannot make everything alone as he needs the support of many people to succeed. At the moment, Red Bull are the reference – [but] our aim is to win, whoever will be our opponents.”
And if anybody was still in any doubt as to the level of pressure the likes of Fry and Domenicali are under to return the legendary Maranello-based outfit to the top in F1, the last word should go to its president Luca di Montezemolo, a man whose career with Ferrari began some 40 years ago – and who has scarlet blood running right through his veins.
“I am not happy,” stressed the Italian. “Next year, I expect a competitive car with a clear interpretation of the rules. I hope to win the championship again.”