Ferrari's grip on this year's F1 world championship may be slipping, but the Italian giant is determined to try everything to keep Fernando Alonso in the hunt after seeing a 29-point advantage over Sebastian Vettel transformed into a 13-point deficit in the space of three races.
As a result, the Scuderia used up the first of four possible 'passes' on the FIA's strict curfew rules to fit updated parts to Alonso's F2012 ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi, working during the six-hour period usually out of bounds to all staff. With the Yas Marina race running to a twilight timetable, that meant mechanics were within the circuit confines between 0400-1000 hours local time but, as FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer pointed out, the team was within its rights.
"Last night, team personnel of the Ferrari team, who are associated with the operation of the car, were within the confines of the circuit during the six hour period which commenced at 04:00 on 02 November, nine hours before the scheduled start time of P1 and ends three hours before the scheduled start time of P1 at 10:00 on 02 November," Bauer confirmed in an official statement, "This was the first of the four individual exceptions permitted for the Ferrari team during the 2012 F1 Championship season and therefore no action should be taken."
Alonso's grip on the championship lead was loosened in Japan, when he was the victim of a first-lap retirement and Vettel went on to record the second of four straight wins since F1 left Europe, and the Spaniard admits that he now needs 'three perfect weekends' to retain any hope of taken the title. However, he acknowledges that Ferrari is still working on developments to aid his cause, and is hoping that the curfew-breaking efforts - understood to have been used to fit parts flown out from Italy overnight - will pay dividends in Abu Dhabi.
"We believe and we trust in the team and the job we do," he insisted in the build-up to Yas Marina, "We have shown that we never give up and know how to fight until the end. When things become stressful and difficult, we can still give 100 per cent and the team has a lot of experience fighting for world championships. Everyone is very motivated and, in India, we saw some good signs in terms of pace compared to Red Bull, even if we need a couple more tenths, especially on Saturday.
"On top of that, we have some updates here and there will be some more in the USA. The season has had its ups and downs and we have seen four consecutive 'ups' for Red Bull, so we think it has to go down sooner or later! We have some new parts that we will be checking tomorrow, [although] we don't think we will close the gap to Red Bull completely, with only five days between India and Abu Dhabi. There is no magic part in F1 but we are trying to put them under pressure after they had four very easy races. We want to be close enough to them to capitalise on anything they do not do perfectly, while we need to be perfect for these next three race weekends."