Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has insisted that the 'basics are in place' for the Scuderia to get back to a 'winning cycle', despite the squad's woes in the countdown to the 2012 F1 season.
Ferrari has struggled with the new F2012 during the three pre-season tests and the team now heads to Melbourne for the opening round mindful that it may be difficult to get on the podium. Despite that though, Domenicali believes Ferrari's time will come again.
“Sport goes in cycles. Over the last thirteen years, McLaren has won just one Constructors' and one Drivers' title, Renault had two fantastic seasons and then nothing, Brawn had a one-off, Mercedes has only managed two podiums in three years and at the moment, this is the Red Bull cycle,” he stated.
“In 2010, we began a new technical cycle: important steps were taken in terms of the organisation and working methodology and here I'm thinking mainly about the areas of simulation and strategy. Aerodynamics is not yet at an adequate level: it's not easy finding the right people, but this has to be a stimulus for those who work for us. I tell you this as someone who experienced the [Michael] Schumacher era first hand and I recall how much we suffered before getting there. Ferrari will be back with another winning cycle as the basics are in place to achieve it.
“This year, Red Bull again starts out in front. McLaren is on form, Mercedes has taken a step forward and Lotus is looking strong, but they also began well last year. Toro Rosso and Force India also seem good, especially on a flying lap. So there might be some surprises at the start and then the situation will settle down but I expect everyone to be much closer to each other than in 2011.”
As for what Ferrari can do 'down under', Domenicali added that Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa could yet pull off a surprise.
“To those who ask me if I would sign today for a third place in Melbourne, I would say that I'm not signing anything. Maybe the same will happen as in 1982 when in the World Cup, Italy got off to a bad start and then in the end, went on to win, when it mattered,” he continued. “As for the media silence I want to stress there was no such choice. In Barcelona we had decided that only the technical head, Pat Fry would talk and then Fernando said a couple of words to the stadium, a place of passion par excellence. That's all.”
He also noted that there is no panic or pessimism at Maranello: “There is none of this, just an awareness of where we stand. We have been realistic when communicating about the problems we have had, because transparency is part of the way I go about things,” he explained.
“The lack of satisfaction comes from the fact we did not meet our technical targets and so everything refers to ourselves. Where we are compared to the others, we do not know for certain and our lack of satisfaction might also turn out to be excessive.
“Having said this, a clearer picture of the hierarchy on track will only emerge after the first four races.”