Having taken the decision to close its own windtunnel until its can be relied upon to produce accurate data, Ferrari is hoping that relying on the former Toyota facility in Cologne can make it a contender for honours from the start of the 2013 season.
Having struggled to make an impact – Fernando Alonso's wet-weather victory in Malaysia aside – at the start of last season, and then found that a succession of wing designs failed to have the desired effect on its F2012, the Scuderia eventually pin-pointed the windtunnel at Maranello as the root cause of its problems.
Although both the 2009 and 2011 seasons raised questions about the accuracy of the Maranello facility, it was only towards the end of last season that Ferrari took the decisive action, switching its focus to Cologne for both the title run-in and preparations for 2013. The Scuderia has also added Loic Bigois and Ben Agathangelou to its aero team in a bid to correct the issues that have plagued it for several seasons.
Now technical director Pat Fry has said that the Prancing Horse is confident that it will be able to produce a more competitive car ahead of the opening pre-season test in Jerez than it did last year, with ongoing developments that have a positive, rather than head-scratching, effect on its progress through the year.
“The first test brought a rude awakening,” Fry told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
, “We realised we had made a few fundamental mistakes, but lacked the time to correct the problems in time for the start of the season in Melbourne. Our first major upgrade at that time was scheduled for Barcelona….
“Most of the errors were of an aerodynamic nature and we had to understand them first before resolving the issues. The car did not behaved as expected and, while everyone has their problems with correlation, our problems were bigger. The more variables you have, the greater the chance of getting lost – and, if you have results from two different sources, it becomes increasingly difficult to pull them together.”
Despite admitting that the Cologne tunnel is unlikely to be 'perfect', particularly given that teams are working with scale models and limited time owing to the restriction on use of resources, Fry remained optimistic that gains made late in 2012 can be translated into a strong start to 2013.
“We improved in the second half of the season, but not to the extent of the others,” he said, noting the ongoing gains made by both McLaren and Red Bull, “Every team has phases in which they have progress and failure.”