Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Barcelona Days Three and Four: S.O.S

It’s official, the 2012 pre-season is finally over and now all that the teams can do is put the finishing touches on their latest contenders and wait for the lights to turn green in Melbourne in less than two weeks time. While teams like Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus and Sauber left Barcelona feeling optimistic about their chances this season, Ferrari admitted on Sunday that it is unlikely that the F2012 will challenge for a podium at the first Grand Prix. After the final day of testing on Sunday, neither Felipe Massa, nor Fernando Alonso gave statements to the media and speculation that the team is experiencing major issues was confirmed when technical director Pat Fry broke Ferrari’s silence on Monday. “I am disappointed by our performance level at the moment; I think we’ve got a lot of work to do. So we’ve just got to kick on. The change we made last week to the exhaust position has put us a little bit on the back foot we’re just trying to optimise for that, we’ve still got obviously a lot of work going on at the factory and we’ll have new bits to test in Melbourne.” He stated.

Although Fernando Alonso was able to clock a time of 1:22.250 to claim a promising second fastest time on Sunday’s test, Ferrari returned to Maranello yesterday well aware that they have a huge mountain to climb if they hope to challenge for the championship. Stefano Domenicali encouraged the team to work as hard as they can during a post-test team meeting. “This is just the starting point and we have a very long season ahead of us.” He explained. “We know that there are some areas where we have to work a lot, regarding reliability and performance, but I’m expecting some great responses from you all and the wish to show who we are.” Fernando Alonso also offered the team his support. “Above all I want to thank you all for the work you’ve done. These were some very intense months and weeks and I know that you’re giving it your all, that you’re working 24/7 on the track and here at the Works to provide me and Felipe with a strong car.” The Spaniard also urged the mean and women at the factory not to give up hope. “We’re united and we’re giving it our all, because we all want the same. I just want to remind you of an episode two years ago: At the last test in Barcelona we were fifth behind Red Bull, McLaren, Sauber and Force India and two weeks later we gained a one-two win in Bahrain. What counts is not to be first in the first race, but in November, at the end of the championship.” He concluded.

The F2012’s erratic form along with Ferrari’s recent revelations of disappointment have left both the media and fans uncertain over exactly where the team will place at the Australian Grand Prix. Still, as one commentator on the ESPN Formula 1 forum wrote, “Last year they were so confident and look at what happened. Maybe their words of caution can be seen as something positive.” Perhaps it is the case that Ferrari is simply playing a game of cat and mouse with their rivals before their true pace is revealed. After all, Lotus dominated the final Barcelona test and yet I don’t think that they will have the fastest car on the grid this year. At the end of the day, testing is only a vague indication of a car’s pace and it is, as Fernando Alonso pointed out, the end result that matters. While the team begin their final preparations before Melbourne, I will keep my fingers crossed that they are holding something back from the media and that in two weeks time they will stun the world with their speed…A girl can dream after all!

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