Ferrari technical director Pat Fry starts the 2013 F1 season in a more optimistic mood than a year ago, but admits that, until the new F138 is trouncing its opponents, he will not be satisfied.
Last season's F2012 made an inauspicious debut in testing and the Scuderia was largely playing catch-up, despite Fernando Alonso's performance keeping it in the hunt for both world titles until deep into the campaign. However, although the Spaniard's push for a third crown meant that Ferrari was obliged to keep developing the car until the end in Brazil, Fry insists that that did not necessarily impact this year's design programme too badly, and reveals that he was content with the level of performance shown by the F138 in testing at Jerez last week.
“This year's car is more of an evolution than a revolution, based on similar concepts to the F2012 and, in all the little areas of performance where we think we can gain something, we have looked for those gains,” he explained on the official Ferrari website, “The car has changed in subtle ways, some areas more than others, but, in general, the F138 is a development of last year's car.
“I think that [fighting to the end of 2012] is something that all the top teams will say impacts on 2013]. In a way, we were fortunate that we had already made changes to our structure, as we were able to keep pushing on with last year's car, while still being in reasonable shape for developing this year's one.”
As usual, Fry confirmed that the car being campaigned by Massa in southern Spain is a far cry from the one that the Brazilian and Alonso will hit the track with in Australia.
“In terms of the launch car, we have done a good job on the mechanical installation and the design, and we have hit all our stiffness targets and saved a lot of weight,” he noted, “The biggest challenge was the aerodynamic side of things, as we started maybe three months later than is normal. We have quite a lot of catching up to do and you will see quite a lot of changes coming after the launch car, [as] we will have some new parts for the second test and then another big upgrade for the third and final one, so lots of changes coming through.
“In the last 18 months to two years, we have made major changes to our methodology. We are partway through a process and I am pleased with the progress we have made so far. But, for me, our progress can never be quick enough and I feel we still have quite a lot to do to improve. We will have a better idea of what our true performance level is come the third test, but I'm not going to be happy unless we arrive in Melbourne and prove to have the quickest car.”
With next year's rulebook being a different in a lot of ways to 2013, there is the danger that focusing one way or another could have a detrimental effect on Ferrari's performance, but Fry is confident that the revised structure at Maranello can cope.
“The fact that the 2014 car will be very different – aerodynamically the exhaust effect is changed with the turbo and exhaust positions being different, the front wing development will be new, while the rear wing constitutes another major change - means that a lot of our 2013 work will not carry over, which will put an increased work load on aero departments and the design department as well,” he acknowledged, “However, I think the design side is working very well with the changes we made, working in conjunction with the power unit team.
“Having said that, there's a huge amount of work to do on both car projects and we have to get to work early on the 2014 car to be in a good position.”