Technical chief Pat Fry says Ferrari is still off the pace of its rivals despite the fact that Fernando Alonso tops the F1 standings going into the third round of the season this weekend in China.
Alonso's surprise win in the rain at Sepang, allied to a fifth place finish in the season-opener in Australia, means he leads the championship despite Ferrari's struggles with the new F2012 during pre-season testing.
Speaking ahead of the Shanghai race however, Fry admitted he was surprised to have one of his drivers sitting top of the standings with the team still having plenty of work to do in order to match the pace of its rivals in dry conditions.
“Our position is down to a combination of circumstances, especially the fact that Fernando had two very good races,” he said. “In Melbourne, after an issue in qualifying, Fernando's good start and good first corner made up for a lot of things. The weather conditions at the last race worked in our favour, as our car worked well there and he made the most of the opportunities that came his way. We got the pit stop calls right and the pit crew did a fantastic job, so that every time Fernando came into pit lane, we either gained places or extended the lead still further. For Fernando, it's great to be leading the championship, something I would have not expected just a few weeks ago.
“I certainly wasn't expecting to have one driver leading the championship. From quite early on in testing, we realised we had quite a few issues we needed to sort out. Everyone at the factory has been working hard at that, as we still have a long way to go. I think our dry qualifying performance is still around eight tenths off the best while we want to be the best ourselves. Damp low grip conditions suit our car and flatter some of the issues we have with the F2012 at the moment. You could see that in Melbourne on Friday and again in the race in Malaysia.”
Fry added that a series of upgrades will be introduced this weekend in China to try and help improve the car, with more to come when F1 returns to Europe after the initial fly-away races.
“We are constantly working on improving the issues we have,” he said. “New parts are coming through and we are trying to get them to the race track as quickly as possible – We will have five updates for China, some are quite visible others less so. Then there will be a bigger upgrade package for Spain. It would be nice to have them earlier, but we have already brought forward some parts we were developing for Spain and we should have them in China.”