Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted that the Scuderia is likely to turn its attention to 2014 from the end of next month unless Fernando Alonso remains a credible title threat to Sebastian Vettel.
With the German having opened up a 46-point advantage following his victory in Belgium at the weekend, it is conceivable that similar success at both Monza and Singapore's Marina Bay could persuade Ferrari that he is out of reach, allowing Maranello to focus entirely on readying itself for the biggest shake-up in F1 technical specification since the current breed of V8 engines were introduced in 2006.
“September is the month where we will basically start to shift, as the 2014 project is very complex,” Domenicali told the official F1 website, “At the end of September, we will then basically switch everyone, depending, of course, on how the situation is with the championship.
“All the top teams realise that, if they want to be a force in 2014, then they have to start very quickly to switch resources, as it is a very complex matter - especially for the big teams. My guess is that we might see huge surprises next season in terms of the pecking order. In my view - and as far as I remember - the changes that we are facing are the biggest changes we have ever had in F1, [so] it is really important to get it right, otherwise you're lost.”
Alonso, meanwhile, has relied on incredible consistency to once again keep in the hunt for a third world title, with Ferrari having not had a mechanical failure on his car since Sepang in 2010. The Scuderia has scored points in 59 of the 66 races since then, with Alonso only missing out on occasions where driver error – his or others –have accounted from a non-finish. The Spaniard has won twice in 2013 – in China and on home soil in Barcelona – and has finished in the top eight in every race bar Malaysia, where failure to recognise a broken front wing saw him crash out at the start of lap two.
“We had quite a good start [to the season],” Domenicali reflected, “Even if we didn't have the quickest car in pure performance in qualifying, we had a very good car in the race. Our race pace was really good. Up to Canada, the car was good. Then we had to face two issues.
“One was that, with the modifications that we brought to improve the car, we've slowed it down. That meant that we've made a step back. The second issue had to do with the change of specification of the tyres - that is a fact, but I don't want to comment on that. It's a fact. Having said that, it meant that we could not bring the performance back that we at least had during the race.
“But we need to stay calm. It is a difficult moment, yes. Take, for example, the Spa qualifying session. During the last four minutes, you had to be in the right place at the right time. Is that something that was down to luck? I don't know, but that is how it was. The season is still long and, yes, the situation in the championship is difficult, but then everything is possible. That is, in a very simplistic way, the situation now.”
With Vettel threatening to pull away and land a fourth consecutive title double for himself and Red Bull, Domenicali knows that time is of the essence when it comes to righting the Ferrari ship.