Fernando Alonso insists that his Ferrari team “will improve” despite being outpaced by rivals Mercedes and Red Bull in the first two races of this year, while team boss Stefano Domenicali believes that although there are improvements they are not enough.
Alonso finished fourth for the second time this season on Sunday.
“It is not the perfect start to the championship but the team is doing a massive effort to catch up,” he said. “We will improve, that’s for sure. We are analysing the areas we need to improve. They seem very clear to us.”
Domenicali said after the race at Sepang, “I don’t think the gap with Red Bull was so big. We were suffering with the Hard tyres, the drivers were struggling with traction and did not feel the car as they wanted.”
“With Mercedes I see a big gap but with the others we are close. It is not easy to solve but I am asking my engineers to put in place a plan to close it. I think the car has improved but not enough,” added Domenicali.
It is now 30 grands prix since Ferrari were on pole – their most recent was Germany 2012
The Ferrari has good performance in high-speed corners but its engine is uncompetitive compared to the Mercedes, which can produce much more power per unit of fuel, the key measurement of performance under F1’s new efficiency-focused rules.
The Ferrari car is also lagging behind the Red Bull in areas such as traction.
Despite the problems, Alonso’s consistency and Ferrari’s reliability mean the 32-year-old double world champion is third in the championship, only one point behind Malaysian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
“Looking at the performance we have in these two races we have one point less than Hamilton and nine points more than Vettel is the less negative thing from these two races,” said Alonso, who finished second in the championship behind Vettel in three of the last four years, twice taking the battle to the last race of the season.
“We have a strong car with no mechanical problems so we could finish both races and score some strong points. We know we miss a little bit of performance at the moment compared to the top guys. I was not quick enough to follow Mercedes and Red Bull. We need to improve.”
He insisted that Ferrari were not as far behind Mercedes in Malaysia as they had been in Australia because the flowing nature of the circuit better suited their car. (Reuters)
Subbed by AJN.