Ferrari has again turned attention to its wind tunnel as it searches for the reasons why it is unable to keep points leader Fernando Alonso on pace with title rivals from Red Bull and McLaren.
Alonso last won a race back in July, and has only maintained his comfortable championship advantage thanks to a couple of inherited podiums in Italy and Singapore, while pursuers such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle over - and share - race wins. Heading into the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, the Spaniard holds a 29-point advantage over Singapore victor Vettel, with Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton - who was denied the win in Marina Bay by gearbox failure - more than 40 points adrift, but Ferrari admits that it has failed to develop its F2012 sufficiently to ensure championship success.
"I've seen, in the second part of the season, when we were trying to bring new updates on the car, that not all the updates were working on the track," team boss Stefano Domenicali conceded, "So, we start to investigate a little bit better and we've found that [the wind tunnel] was the issue. Going into deep analysis of the reasons, we've understood it was coming from a tool that is not obsolete, but not really up to the speed of the new technologies that are available on the market."
It is not the first time that Ferrari has suffered correlation issues with its wind tunnel, with the slow start to recent seasons also being laid at the facility's door, but it was thought that the problems had been cured. Now, however, Domenicali admits that the Scuderia will look to use a more modern version elsewhere in a bid to keep Alonso's title challenge on track over the five races that remain after Japan.
"I think that our structure is not the best one in that it is quite old so, as always – and I think it's happened to all of us in different situations - we're trying to improve the quality of the tools that we have," he confirmed, "And this is something that we are trying to do mainly to improve the correlation issue that we had.
"As you know, we are using another facility and, in the next couple of weeks, we will define what is the problem to be more specific than that, to see the time we have to spend shutting it down and trying to improve the things that are not at the maximum level at the moment."
Despite the setback, Domenicali confirmed that Ferrari would continue to develop the F2012 in order to preserve Alonso's position at the head of the points race.
"The plan is to try to push as much as we can, bring new developments to every race, but it isn't easy," he noted, "For sure, I think the situation in the championship is very clear - if you are not able to improve the car, then it is more difficult to fight for the championship because we cannot rely on the problem of the others. That's a fact, but it doesn't mean that we will not push as hard as possible. It is a consideration that we cannot rely only on being third, fourth, whatever it is - we need to make sure that we at least win a race and then we will see what will be the situation with the others."