Given the fifth and eighth place finishes in Australia, it may be logical for Ferrari fans to feel like the team are heading down a familiar path of average performance and struggling in-season development. Ferrari technical director, James Allison, agrees and says that the competitiveness of this year’s F14T chassis is “not acceptable”.
The team is working “round the clock” to increase the competitiveness and claw back some ground that Mercedes currently holds on the entire field. The Ferrari of 2014 seems to have pace on high-speed corners but struggles with stability under braking and speed down the straights.
Like all Formula 1 season’s, the war of in-season car development is the most expensive and crucial part of each year and Allison says Ferrari need to work extra hard to stand of chance of competing in the development war:
“All the recent seasons in F1 have been characterised by a fierce development battle from March until November,” he said.
“With all the new regulations this year, the opportunities to improve the car are legion and we can expect the race to improve the cars to be even more intense than normal.
“We intend to fight our way back up the grid with the improvements that we will bring to the car.”
As for the drivers, they also believe there is a lot of work to be done. Fernando Alonso finished some 35 seconds adrift of Mercedes driver and race-winner Nico Rosberg but he says that the team needs to be patient:
“It is just the first race so no one can say who will win the championship after just the first race or who will lose it,” said Alonso when asked whether he felt Ferrari could catch Mercedes.
“We need to be calm, to do better next time and just to try to understand the areas to improve and the areas we seem strong.
“Mercedes looked very strong in winter testing and they were very strong here and they won the race because they deserve [it].
“At the moment they are a little bit ahead of everyone; we need to improve and reduce that gap to minimum and hopefully finish in front of them.”
His teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, battled the car during the Australian Grand Prix and suggests the first place to focus on is the new brake-by-wire system:
“We identified some general problems which we have to tackle in Maranello and there are other aspects linked to the set-up on my car to do with the brake-by-wire system,” said Raikkonen.
“Getting this device working correctly is definitely something that contributes to the general feeling from the car, because it has a great effect on corner entry.
“Having said that, the F14 T improved right through Friday and Saturday and not getting into Q3 was not down to the competitiveness of the car.”
It certainly would stand to reason, as Raikkonen seemed to struggle with the car quite a lot under braking during the race. Raikkonen says that this isn’t his first troubled weekend he’s ever had in F1 and if Ferrari is focused on the right elements, he feels they can rebound in Malaysia and come out with a good result:
“I’ve been in this game for quite a while now,” said Raikkonen, “and I can say this is definitely not the first time that I’ve gone through a difficult first race weekend.
“I’m sure that, if we work in the correct way, then right from the next race in Malaysia, the results can definitely be better.”
Raikkonen has a different driving style than Alonso and the team is intent on finding the right balance for him but the overarching theme might be finding the balance to be on par with Mercedes. Time is what is needed—it’s also one of the rare commodities in F1.