Luca di Montezemolo has conceded that he 'would never have expected such a difficult start' to the F1 2011 World Championship for Ferrari, reflecting that it has been an 'emotional' past few months and stressing that after mistakenly favouring conservatism in the design of its underperforming F150° Italia, the Scuderia
must adopt 'a more aggressive' approach looking to 2012.
Eight races into the present campaign – one in which Ferrari had fully expected to be doing battle for title glory – there have been no victories for the scarlet brigade, and just three podium finishes for Fernando Alonso, leaving the Spanish two-time F1 World Champion a distant fifth in the drivers' standings, a staggering 99 points adrift of runaway pace-setter Sebastian Vettel. The situation is even bleaker still in the constructors' table, with the Maranello-based outfit trailing Red Bull Racing by 166 markers.
Alonso has now all-but dismissed his own chances of adding to his 2005 and 2006 laurels achieved with Renault – lamenting that 'if anyone thinks we can win a championship being eight tenths behind [Red Bull], maybe they don't understand F1' [see separate story – click here
] – and whilst himself refusing to admit defeat until the maths no longer add up, Ferrari President di Montezemolo concedes that the same mistakes must not be permitted to be repeated.
“We never give in, and Ferrari has always shown that spirit,” the Italian underlined. “Before saying the title has definitely gone, I still want to wait a few more races. Certainly, it is very, very difficult, but we will do our best and the maths will come at the end.
“It's an emotional year – [over the] winter, I would never have expected us to have such a difficult start. There are reasons why this happened, such as problems with the wind tunnel. Situations like the ones we have experienced this year can be useful in giving you a direction to go in terms of working methods, of spirit and also in terms of organisation – and that is what I have asked for from the team.
“Now we are working very hard to make up the ground lost and to try to win races; I think we could have done so in Monaco and in Canada. It's a year in which everything is going well for the others but less so for us. In F1, you can have years where everything goes in the right direction – I can remember it well, without having to think too far back. We must knuckle down and look ahead. I have every confidence in our group and in the way it is reacting, with a different approach, a more aggressive one, which must also be applied to the design of next year's car.
“Alonso is a great driver and I am very happy to have signed such a long-term contract so that we will have a very deep involvement with him, as we did with Michael Schumacher in his day – the fact we will be together at least to the end of 2016 is confirmation that both parties are pleased with this relationship. I am also very satisfied with Felipe [Massa], who this year is reacting very well and who represents a reference point for the whole team. We are pleased with our drivers; we must improve the car to get back to being where we want Ferrari to be.”
di Montezemolo was similarly positive in his assessment of the current health of F1 in general, welcoming the resolution to introduce a turbocharged V6 engine in 2014 rather than going down the 'green' four-cylinder route so vociferously opposed by Bernie Ecclestone and the majority of the sport's teams.
Reasoning that V6 power is far more in-keeping with Ferrari's very raison d'être
in terms of its road car line-up – currently composed entirely of V8 and V12 models – the 63-year-old added that competition in the top flight has helped to refine and progress the legendary Italian manufacturer's gearboxes, composite materials and other significant technologies over the years, and suggested that the next area in need of a regulations overhaul is aerodynamics.
“I [will] do F1 as long as F1 represents for us the most important research centre,” he assured, quoted by Reuters
. “The decision of the V6 is important because turbo-six is good for the future, not only for Ferrari but also for Mercedes and others.
“F1 is really booming all over the world in terms of globalisation. This year we will go to India, last year we were in Korea and [in 2014] to Russia. F1 is really becoming a worldwide sport.
“Today, aerodynamics means 90 per cent of the performance, but I think this is not good because we are not building satellites or airplanes – we're building cars. Aerodynamics have to be less relevant in the performance of the car.”