Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said today that the Italian team has to stay calm whether it quickly finds success or has a difficult start to the year with its new car.
There has been a mood of optimism in the Maranello camp of late, engendered by the push for a radical car, and new staff arrivals. Speaking to the media Domenicali admitted that expectations were high, but stressed that 2012 would be a long season.
“Clearly, this will be a tricky year, but that is part of any sport, even more so when one looks at the environment in which Ferrari operates,” said the 46-year-old. “There are expectations that need to be managed as well as possible, and I am well aware that the emotional aspect is very important in a team like ours.
“But that will not change my approach. We will not get over excited if things go well, nor will we be down if we have some difficulties, especially at the start, because we know this is going to be a very long season. We must stay grounded and calm, maintaining our motivation and concentration.
“Of course, winning is our primary objective and I believe we are preparing ourselves in the right way for this. Everyone is working hard on improving the performance of the car, paying great attention to every little detail. I expect even those who have just joined us to make a significant contribution to what is already a strong group of people. Because once in a while a breath of fresh air can liven things up.”
Domenicali reiterated that the new car – the first designed under the leadership of Brit Pat Fry – represents a break with the past. He also joked about is looks.
“It’s definitely different, because it represents a clear break with the past in terms of the design philosophy. It’s not that pretty, because the shape defined by the technical regulations does not leave much scope, but, and this is what counts really, our hopes are that it is at the very least quick!
“I asked our engineers, as far back as last summer to look into every little nook and cranny of the rules to push it to the limit, but up until we see the other cars we will not know if we have taken it to the limit or are within it. Then, to really understand the hierarchy we will have to wait for qualifying in Melbourne. We must always bear in mind that the times one sees from testing are not always what they seem. At Jerez and the two Barcelona tests, we can get a rough idea, but nothing more.”
Domenicali also stressed that 2012 will be a busy year behind the scenes for F1, as the new Concorde Agreement is finalised and the Resource Restriction Agreement continues to be a major focus of attention. He added that the RRA is still very much alive, despite the fact that Ferrari and others have left FOTA. However its precise form remains fluid.
“Clearly this is a very important year and we are all aware of that,” said Domenicali of the Concorde. “It is equally clear that there is only one offer on the table, given that no alternative solutions were ever established.
“In the coming months, talks will get underway on the future of the Agreement as we are still in discussion, especially with the bigger teams, despite the fact we have left FOTA, on the subject of cost reduction, discussions where Ferrari has always been at the forefront.
“Furthermore, one must bear in mind that the RRA is still in force: what still needs to be established – and this something we are looking at in these days – is if we should abide by the first version, signed in 2009, or the one drawn up in Singapore in 2010. The first one envisages very severe spending cuts for 2012, the year it should run out, while the one signed in Singapore has a revised figure and is valid right up to the end of 2017.
“The key point is to understand if this is an important tool for the future. What should happen to those who do not abide by the rules? Today, only a financial type of penalty is planned, but we need to decide if it would not be better to think also of something on the sporting front and, in that case, who should decide the outcome.”