Stefano Domenicali has admitted that his Ferrari team will once again carry the expectation of challenging for the F1 world championship, particularly after a disappointing 2011 campaign that saw Fernando Alonso take only fourth overall in the standings.
Addressing the media in the opening press conference of the Scuderia's annual Wroom
event on the slopes of Madonna di Campiglio in the Italian Dolomites, Domenicali acknowledged that pressure was part of being involved with Ferrari, whose long relationship with grand prix racing has created a large and fanatical following
"Ferrari is always under pressure, it is part of the culture of our team," he conceded, "Expectations are part of the heritage, [but] we have to manage expectations. Anxiety does not help - it is useless to feel stress. My approach is to be determined and to work hard and not to be demotivated if things do not go well at the start. Our objective is pretty clear."
That objective is not only to challenge for the world title, but to overhaul Red Bull Racing, which has established itself as an F1 'superpower' in the past three seasons. Because of that, the Scuderia will move away from a simple evolution of its 2011 car in a bid to close the gap on both RBR and McLaren, which appeared to widen the gap between itself and Ferrari as the season wore on.
"This year's car will be a break from the past," Domenicali announced, confirming that the 2012 machine would be unveiled at Maranello on 3 February before being shaken down the next day, weather permitting, "It will be a different car, with new concepts that were not used in previous cars. There is a lot of effort to maximise the performance in all departments.
“We have to improve as we always have to do. Everything needs to be perfect and at the limit if we are to win. Relationships between people need to be as fluid as possible. We have new people bringing in new ideas, fresh air, but we are not losing the positive values that we have in the team. We have to work to make sure that everything is fully integrated. The structure is now in place. The engineers know that they have all that they need to work well, but it is no good generating further pressure on them. That is useless.”
Of course, the first defining moment of the season will come in testing, when each of the twelve teams wheels out its latest creation. That is usually the point at which teams realise they may have missed a trick when it comes to the technology that could make or break a title challenge, but Domenicali remains confident that there will be few surprises.
“As far as we know, there do not seem to be any novelties,” he claimed, “I have been asking my engineers several times whether they are sure that they have been as aggressive as possible in their understanding of the rules, but we will have to wait and see. You do not really know until the teams begin testing.”