25 March 2015
F1 Malaysian Grand Prix: Ferrari ‘can be fair bit closer’ at Sepang
Given a more efficient weekend, Ferrari F1 technical director James Allison believes the Scuderia can be more of a match for Mercedes in Malaysia.
Ferrari technical director James Allison is confident that the Scuderia can give a better account of itself in round two of the 2015 F1 world championship in Malaysia this weekend – even if he doesn't foresee anyone beating Mercedes.
Speaking to the official Ferrari website ahead of the trip to Sepang, Allison admitted that Ferrari had not operated at its best in the season-opener, and had allowed Mercedes to flatter itself with the margin between Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and the rest of the field which, on raceday, was headed by Ferrari new boy Sebastian Vettel.
With one race weekend now under their belts, however, he is confident that things can be closer, if not necessarily different position-wise, in Malaysia.
“Let's assume for a minute that Mercedes don't make a mistake...,” he smiled, “I think, with the gaps we saw in Melbourne, it's reasonable to expect that Mercedes will be at the front. However, we think that we can be a fair bit closer to them than we were in Melbourne - if we get everything right. We didn't get everything right in Melbourne and, in Malaysia, we hope to, so I think we can put our cars in a strong third and fourth on the grid.
“[Australia] was a race of mixed fortunes. We were happy to get a podium in our first race of the year - I hope we can get many more and I hope we can be higher up the steps at some point in the future - but what was bad was that we had a DNF. And we would, of course, like to be closer to the Mercedes.”
Explaining that Sepang is not all that different to Melbourne in terms of horsepower and aerodynamics, meaning that a car competitive at one should still be competitive at the other, Allison said that tyres – and the way the teams manage them – could be the key to success.
“The main difference, of course, is that Sepang is very hot, and is therefore more of a challenge to keep the car at the right temperature and, more critically, the tyres at the right temperature,” he noted, “Management of those tyres is more critical at Sepang.
“The interesting thing about Malaysia is that, with the particular rubber we take to that track, we can normally expect a fairly substantial undercut potential in the race. With the medium rubber - the option rubber - on which we're likely to qualify, you want to get off that at a certain point and, when you do, and go onto the new rubber, then you find quite a big undercut possibility and that will make the race interesting strategically.”
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