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Ferrari maintains twin-pronged focus.


Ferrari is confident that it can challenge for both this year's Formula One world championship and next's as it combines the resumption of hostilities at Valencia with the increased workload needed to produce a race winner under 2009's revised rulebook.

This weekend's European Grand Prix marks the return to the track after the traditional summer 'break', but Ferrari - like its rivals - has not been resting in the time since Hungary, dividing its time between trying to discover the current issues of Kimi Raikkonen's recent malaise and Felipe Massa's engine failure in Budapest and preparing for the new street course, as well as continuing the design and development of its 2009 challenger.

"We are entering the production phase for the main components of our 2009 car, parts such as the chassis and gearbox," technical director Aldo Costa revealed, "Ferrari has the ability and resources to work on next year's car without having to relax for one moment on continuing the development of the F2008 in a championship that is proving to be very tight between ourselves and our usual opponents. However, it is a very demanding challenge.

"Although it is a challenge we have faced many times before, it is particularly tough this time, as there are so many new elements coming into play for next season, such as the return to slick tyres and the introduction of the KERS system. This makes the puzzle more complicated than ever, which is why we have to operate as efficiently as possible in terms of time management, commitment and energy, as we are now in a delicate phase with no way to recover from any mistakes. One step in the wrong direction could prove very costly."

Ferrari has won the European GP five times previously, once with Rubens Barrichello and four times with Michael Schumacher, but the change of location - exacerbated by the move from road course to street circuit - means that that cannot be considered a reliable form guide for the coming weekend.

As a brand new venue, preparation for the Valencia event has been slightly different to normal, even if the route from Maranello to Valencia is a well-trodden one for the Scuderia, which tests regularly at the permanent Circuit Ricardo Tormo situated just outside the city.

The new track is an unknown quantity, with only images and any feedback gleaned from the national F3 and GT teams that raced there last month for the teams to work from. As a result, preparations rely heavily on the use of simulation programmes, with Ferrari using the Centro Ricerche Fiat example, to provide a solid baseline from which to work ahead of first free practice on Friday morning.

However, while helping the engineers produce a basic set-up for the cars, and providing an aid to the drivers in as far as showing them where the corners are, the simulator is no substitute for track time, especially where the tyres are concerned. Bridgestone has confirmed that its 'soft' and 'super soft' compounds will be taken to Valencia but, while the teams have already used these twice this year at other grands prix, the performance on Valencia's track surface cannot be predicted with total accuracy.

"The track looks very interesting, combining a variety of different corner types, as well as some sections with a high top speed, maybe only slightly lower than those seen at the Montreal circuit in Canada," Costa suggests, "We can expect high temperatures this weekend, which should not present us with any problems but, after the high downforce configuration we ran at the last race in Budapest, we now return to a medium to low downforce configuration - with some updates to the package that were already tested at Jerez in the week prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix."

Ferrari will arrive in Valencia on Wednesday to get acclimatised to the unfamiliar surroundings of the circuit, which is built around the city's Americas Cup port.

"At the risk of repeating ourselves, our aim is the same as ever - to ensure that every element of our package and team works to its maximum as we strive to bring home as many points as possible and, hopefully, be the first to put our names on a Valencia trophy," Costa concluded.


Related Pictures

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Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008, Hungarian F1, Hungaroring, 1st-3rd, August, 2008
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