Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has restated the team's intention of annexing the top two steps of the podium at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix as it attempts to close down Lewis Hamilton's world championship lead.

The Briton's seven-point advantage means that it is possible for him to take the crown by simply following main rival Felipe Massa across the line at each of the three remaining races - in Japan, China and Brazil - but Domenicali believes that it the Scuderia is capable of achieving its aim.

"As I said in Singapore, immediately after the night race there, our target in Japan - and also in the final two races - will be to come away with maximum points," he said, "It is a simple statement, but also a very difficult task! However, we have the potential to achieve this goal and we believe we can do it."

Domenicali knows that, not only should Massa come up short in the drivers' championship, but also the team finish second to old rival McLaren in the constructors' competition, it would only have itself to blame. Having been 'helped out' by decisions made away from the track, Ferrari has too often seen its controversial pit-stop release system or mechanical frailty cost either Massa or team-mate Kimi Raikkonen results that would have kept the Prancing Horse on top. Singapore, where Massa left his first stop too early, taking the fuel hose with him and suffering a penalty, and where Raikkonen crashed out of fifth place, was a case in point.

"Our stated objective of winning both titles was rendered more difficult after the result of the last race where, apart from the complication of dealing with the first safety car period, we did not help ourselves with the mistake made during Felipe's pit-stop," Domenicali admitted, before going on to confirm that the Scuderia would revert to more conventional methods of policing its stops from Fuji.

"We still believe that our 'traffic light' system brings a performance advantage, something we have seen on a couple of occasions this season when it's use has allowed us to gain a place in pit-lane," he maintained, "It is a good system that still has potential [but], for the rest of this season, in the light of recent events, we have decided to revert to a conventional 'lollipop' for telling the driver when it is clear for him to go.

"This decision has been taken purely to give the pit crew maximum confidence at the time of the pit-stops. They are always a tense moment and, with the fight for the championships so finely balanced, that will be even more the case over these last few races. Therefore, we do not need to put our guys under any more strain than necessary."

Domenicali also revealed that, despite suggestions that changes may be afoot in an effort to improve the efficiency of the pit-stop procedure, 'personnel remain unchanged from the line-up used in Singapore'.

In line with its rivals, which disclosed that it would continue to tinker with its MP4-23 until Interlagos, Ferrari's F2008 will feature the team's latest development parts at Fuji, but Domenicali admitted that it would probably be the last update this year, with the car running to the same specification in China and Brazil. The developments were given their final track 'sign-off' during an aero test in Vairano last week, having previously been evaluated at the last test in Mugello.

Raikkonen and Massa, in common with many of their rivals, took the opportunity to stay out in the Far East after Singapore in order to slowly acclimatise to the time difference not used at the night race, but will be mindful of the troubled time they had at last year's rain-soaked Japanese GP.

The return to Fuji started badly, with both drivers relegated to the back after the wrong tyres were fitted on the grid. Ferrari maintained that it had not been informed of the need to fit the 'extreme' wet for the safety car start and was forced to make an early pit-stop to correct the 'mistake'. Despite that, Raikkonen finished on the podium to keep his title hopes alive, while Massa took sixth.

The latest forecasts for this weekend suggest that, while there is a strong possibility of rain on Saturday, race day should be mainly dry, which will come as a bonus for Ferrari, which has seen its cars struggle in wet conditions this year.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment