With four races to go, and a 77-point deficit to make up in the F1 constructors' championship, Ferrari has vowed to do all it can to rein in the charge that has taken Red Bull to the verge of another title sweep.
Although 172 points remain possible between now and the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix, there are section of the F1 paddock already handing the teams' title to Christian Horner's equipe
, and almost as many that believe a six-point advantage for Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings is enough for the German to be crowned champion for a third straight year, but Ferrari insists that it will continue to scrap to the end.
The fighting talk comes despite well-publicised problems with the wind tunnel at Maranello, as chief designer Nick Tombazis promised that the team would be bringing developments to each of the remaining races in India, Abu Dhabi, the USA and Brazil.
“As we are still in the fight for the championship, we therefore have to continue with the development of the car,” he wrote on the Scuderia's website, "And because we don't currently enjoy an advantage, either in terms of performance or as far as the points situation is concerned, we cannot defend. We must attack and adopt an aggressive approach to car development for these four races, bringing updates to every one of them to close the gap and fight for the wins and hopefully bring home the titles.”
Despite Alonso holding sway at the top of the standings for much of the summer, Ferrari's F2012 has rarely been the best car on track, carried instead by decent reliability and Alonso's refusal to give up on a good result. Nine podiums in 16 races include three wins - in Malaysia, Valencia and Germany - but it is the string of third place finishes that perhaps best underline the Spaniard's effort, and Tombazis concedes that the Prancing Horse could have been more competitive - and therefore able to build a bigger cushion than the 40 points once enjoyed by its two-time champion.
“I'd say I have mixed feelings about how development has gone over the course of the year but, as a whole, we can be pleased, as we are still in the fight for the championship,” Tombazis admitted, “There was a period when our development was better than that of our rivals, which allowed us to make up for a very poor start to the season and we can take satisfaction from that too.
“However, in the last few races, our progress has not matched our expectations and various components which we expected would make our car more competitive did not do so. As a result, we are lagging behind our competitors. This doesn't mean we did not move forward on development, but we had been expecting something more.”
Blame for the lack of progress has been laid firmly at the door of Ferrari's wind tunnel, which has let it down in the past, and prompted a switch to the former Toyota F1 facility in Cologne, as well as the decision to fall back on more tried-and-tested methods such as getting a car out on the road.
“One element that slowed our progress was the difficulty we encountered in the correlation with data from the wind tunnel and that from the track,” Tombazis confirmed, “The wind tunnel can only ever be a model of what things are like in reality and can never be completely real, but the data we saw in the wind tunnel did not match 100 per cent the data we were getting from the track.