|Circuit|| Shanghai International Circuit
|Distance||294,164 km / 182,824 miles|
|7||Kimi Raikkonen||F14 T|| 303
|14||Fernando Alonso||F14 T||302||Scuderia Ferrari||3.|
Fernando Alonso: “After a difficult start to the season, this podium is a confidence boost for the whole team, providing extra motivation for all those who are doing their best to close the gap to the front. And I think this podium should be dedicated to Stefano, as everything we do up to July will also be the result of his efforts. We have definitely made a step forward, because compared to two weeks ago, we have partly closed the gap to the leaders, but we are well aware there’s still a long way to go and we have to keep our feet on the ground. In general, this has been a good weekend for me, as everything went well right from Friday, although the rain made qualifying more complicated than expected. I was on the limit all race long and I really don’t think I could have done any more. This is quite a unique track of its kind and now we must make the most of the long break before the next race to prepare as well as possible for whatever situation arises.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “This has been a really difficult weekend. Right from Friday morning, I suffered with problems that we didn’t manage to solve completely and today in the race, I couldn’t get the result I wanted. The start was good, I made up two places but then I couldn’t make up any more ground, as I just didn’t have the pace, nor much grip at the front or the back. In the final stint on new tyres, the car handled better, but then, as the tyres degraded the situation got complicated again. I think the difficulties I encountered here stem from a combination of various factors, from my driving style combined with the low temperatures and the characteristics of the track. Today, we brought home valuable points thanks to the intense efforts of the whole team and now we will continue to work ceaselessly to improve. Fernando’s result is very encouraging and proves we are moving in the right direction.”
Pat Fry: “Today’s result is a reward for the effort that all the team is putting into every area. Both drivers got away well, managing to make up two places immediately and, luckily the collision between Fernando and Felipe Massa’s Williams left the F14 T undamaged. In the first stint, with Kimi we lost a bit of time behind Grosjean and that prevented him from making up ground on his rivals, in a race where tyre degradation and graining played an important role. The choice made at Fernando’s first stop saw him take second place: from then on, we concentrated on managing the gap to the Red Bull and tried to keep Rosberg behind us for as long as possible. This weekend we made some progress and in general, the speed of the car has increased, both in the corners and on the straights, but we have to be realistic about our current potential and continue working, because the gap to Mercedes is still big and no one within our team has any intention of giving up.”
Shanghai, 20 April – Scuderia Ferrari’s short term aim coming into this race was to be the best of the pack of teams chasing Mercedes and today that was the case, with Fernando Alonso taking a fine third place behind the all conquering Anglo-German team. Lewis Hamilton took his third straight win, ahead of Nico Rosberg, who still leads the Drivers’ championship – Fernando is up to third. Kimi Raikkonen in the second F14 T made up three places off the grid, to finish eighth.
As the lights went out, Hamilton led from pole, Ricciardo got bogged down from second allowing Vettel to go ahead, while Fernando got a blindingly quick run to move up two places to third colliding with a fast starting Massa in the Williams. Kimi moved up one spot to tenth by the end of the opening lap.
On lap 5 of 56, the order was Hamilton a massive 4.1 ahead of Vettel in the Red Bull, with Fernando’s F14 T just 0.8 behind the German. Behind the Ferrari man came Ricciardo, Rosberg, working his way back up after a poor start, Massa in the Williams, while Hulkenberg was seventh in the Force India. Bottas was eighth in the Williams, with Grosjean ninth for Lotus ahead of Kimi in tenth.
With the cold conditions, even after a handful of laps, several drivers including Fernando were complaining of graining on the left front tyre and Button was the first to pit in the McLaren on lap 7 for Mediums. Grosjean was next to change to the harder compound on lap 9, promoting Kimi to ninth. The Finn took on Mediums on lap 10, as did Massa and Perez, although the Brazilian Williams drivers had a major problem with a rear and had a very lengthy stop. Fernando pitted next time round.
With everyone having visited the pits, Hamilton kept the lead, now 3.7 ahead of Fernando, who had Vettel 3.3 behind. Fourth was Rosberg, then came Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Kimi in eighth, while Grosjean and Perez completed the top ten. Rosberg closed on Vettel and the two men were wheel to wheel for several corners, the Mercedes man eventually making it stick to go third on lap 22. Ricciardo also passed Vettel on lap 25.
At this point, Fernando was 9.7 behind Hamilton and 5.7 ahead of third placed Rosberg, although the German now began closing on the Spaniard. Lap 29 and the gap had shrunk to 3 seconds, while Kimi was having a solitary race in eighth. Hulkenberg, Bottas and Kimi all came in together for their second stops on lap 31, the Finn fitting Mediums again. On the next lap, Rosberg was within the necessary second to use DRS, but for the moment, Fernando was holding him off, until the Spaniard made his second stop on lap 33, again for Mediums, dropping to fourth.
With everyone having completed two stops, Hamilton was 12.7 ahead of Fernando, who had a 3.4 lead over Rosberg. Then came Ricciardo fourth, followed by Vettel, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Kimi eighth, 3.5 ahead of Perez. Once again, Rosberg closed on the Spanish Ferrari man, so the gap was only 2.1 with 16 laps remaining. Lap 42 and they inevitably changed places and thus the order was set to the flag, with Fernando heading for his and the Scuderia’s first podium of the season. Kimi contributed 4 more points to the team total with his eighth place finish. The Scuderia is now fourth in the Constructors’, just 2 points behind Force India.
Shanghai, 20 April–First podium of the season for Scuderia Ferrari which comes as a great relief after the very difficult race in Bahrain. Fernando Alonso took third place after attacking all the way from the start. It was at this point that he had his most worrying moment, colliding with the Williams of former team-mate Felipe Massa, but the F14 T proved to be strongly put together.
Kimi Raikkonen had a more difficult time, as he is still not feeling totally comfortable at the wheel. The Finn got away well making up a place to sit in the points positions right from the opening lap, but in the end, he could do no better than eighth.
For Scuderia Ferrari there is still plenty of work to do to close the gap to the best, but this podium is some small reward for all the hard work everyone in Maranello has contributed to improving the F14 T.
The race was won by Lewis Hamilton taking his 25 win, ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Fernando Alonso: “When it rains you never know how things will turn out as track conditions can get worse lap after lap and so that’s one reason for me to be pleased with the way qualifying went. Fifth place means I can start with the lead group and if I can stay with the leaders we can finish close to the podium. The opening laps will count for a lot therefore and we must try our absolute best to get a good start and to avoid battles, which in the last few races have seen us lose ground. Yesterday, the car was more competitive and that means we can hope for a better race than in the last three. I think that here in China, we have taken the first step towards improving; the car behaved well in all areas and is performing better on the aerodynamic front, thanks to the small updates we have introduced here and we have more power, having revised some settings on the power unit. Certainly, we are still a long way off the pace of the leaders, because they too are progressing, but we can
hope to fight for better positions and more points.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “The past two days have been difficult, because after yesterday’s technical problem, this morning I also only did a single run, but overall, I felt more comfortable in the car. Unfortunately, on my last run in Q2, when I was on my quick lap, I lost a lot of time in the final sector and that meant I didn’t make the cut to Q3. The car’s handling was inconsistent, as it was stable in some parts of the track and less so in others. I had some problems with the balance and this had an effect on my performance. It’s too early to say what happened, but the time lost yesterday definitely didn’t help. Now I want to concentrate on tomorrow’s race and try my best to end this weekend with a good result.”
Pat Fry: “The weather forecast for today proved to be right and a light but persistent rain had a significant effect on both sessions. In the morning, we chose to run as little as possible so as not to use up the rain tyres in order to have as many new sets as possible for qualifying and the race. Kimi unfortunately did not get past Q2.
Yesterday he lost the first free practice session and today he was fighting with the balance of the car, especially in the slow corners. As for Fernando, he managed to get through the three parts of qualifying without any particular problems and fifth place on the grid tomorrow will mean he can be in the leading group. With him, we will try and exploit any opportunity to attack while with Kimi we will try and move him up the order to take as many points as he can. In both cases, the opening two laps will hold the key.”
Shanghai, 19 April – Last year, Fernando Alonso won the Chinese Grand Prix from third on the grid on a hot and sunny day in Shanghai. Can the Ferrari man aim for the podium this Sunday, starting two places further back in fifth? Well, it’s certainly a possibility as, after today’s very cold and wet qualifying, tomorrow is meant to be cool but dry, conditions which should better suit what is a slightly improved F14 T. Although there is still a 50% chance of rain which is why, like several other teams, the Scuderia did very little running in this morning’s final hour of free practice, saving rain tyres just in case.
Even Kimi Raikkonen felt the car was better, although the Finn who missed all of yesterday morning’s practice session with a technical problem, struggled in the wet conditions this afternoon, just failing to make the cut into Q3 and therefore starts from 11th place on Row 6. In the wet, the gaps were significant, with Fernando half a second slower in Q3 than fourth placed Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, but Friday’s dry running points to a slightly closer contest tomorrow.
Out in front of everyone, Lewis Hamilton took pole for the third time this year and the 34th of his career. Splitting the two Mercedes are the two Red Bulls and for the third time out of four, newcomer Daniel Ricciardo has beaten his world champion team-mate, Sebastian Vettel. Sharing the third row with Fernando tomorrow will be his former team-mate, Felipe Massa in the Williams. Kimi has another world champion alongside him, as Jenson Button was twelfth for McLaren.
Much as Formula 1 has changed this year, an attacking start is still the most effective way of ensuring you have a good race and after that, the two Prancing Horse drivers will be seeking any advantage they can, be it strategic or opportunist. When it comes to pit stops, the two choices are a three stop, most likely if a cold day prompts heavy graining on the tyres, or a two stop for those cars that are kind on their rubber.
Shanghai, 19 April – In the third wet qualifying out of four races so far this season, Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest, while Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for eleventh place. The Spaniard did not have much difficulty getting through to the final part of qualifying, but in the last 12 minute session, he struggled on his first run, while on his second set of intermediates, he set a time of 1.55.637.
Raikkonen had a much tougher time, failing to make the cut to Q3 by just 13 thousandths of a second, with a time of 1.56.860. The Finn got caught up in traffic, which wiped out any advantage from having fitted new tyres. Kimi ended up in a train of cars, which is always a problem in the wet as visibility is so restricted.
Lewis Hamilton took the 34th pole of his career for Mercedes. He will share the front row with Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull. Ahead of Alonso are Sebastian Vettel, third and Nico Rosberg fourth.
Shanghai, 19 April –A puzzling session for everyone including Scuderia Ferrari as the track was damp in this third practice session, while much more rain is expected for qualifying. Therefore most people did little more than an installation lap, as there was little to learn from using fuel and tyres to no avail. Fernando Alonso, like many of the field only did an installation lap, while Kimi Raikkonen also went out in the final minutes to learn more about the track in the wet and set the fifth fastest time on his only timed lap in 1.55.062. Alonso however stayed in the garage.
Fastest, for what it’s worth, was Daniel Ricciardo, who did a 1.53.958 early in the session, when it was less wet in the Red Bull.
Shanghai, 18 April – The new Head of the Gestione Sportiva, Marco Mattiacci met the Formula 1 media for the first time today in the Shanghai International Circuit paddock. Here is what he was asked and what he had to say.
You come here relatively unknown to Formula 1 people. I think even Fernando and Kimi say they knew very little about you. Do you feel you have got a big mission to prove yourself to win the sceptics over?
MM: It is very motivating for me. I accept it because I think sometimes, you can bring a new perspective looking at issues and opportunities, and the fact that I need to prove that I am at the level of Ferrari first and the level of Formula 1, so you have in front of you an extremely motivated person.
There’s a tendency amongst Formula 1 teams now to have a CEO and then a racing director or sporting director below that. Do you intend restructuring the Gestione Sportiva or how do you want to do that?
MM: It’s too early to make such statements. What I know is that I’ve worked in Ferrari for 14 years. I’ve been, for the last four days, in Maranello in the Gestione Sportiva. I think we have an amazing group of talented people. I think we have a history of pedigree that is unique, a pride that is impressive, so to talk about restructuring is too early. Definitely, we are here, I’m here. Mr Montezemolo is extremely focused on giving any kind of support to the team and if needed, to go in the market, but – but – clearly, to go in the market if he really believes that it’s going to be an added value and impact to this team. That’s at the moment what I know.
Can you tell us about motorsport experience? Do you have any at all when you were with Ferrari North America or out here?
MM: If you want, I can tell you that I love racing. I race in my spare time. I spent probably 20, 22 weeks in the track last year. I attended three 24 Hour Daytonas, sleeping at the track, tried to learn as much as I could. It’s not Formula 1 but I love racing. I love continuous improvement. I love challenging the team, challenging ourselves to give a better car and to get as much as we can from the track.
In any way, is your lack of race team experience or lack of experience here an asset to you? Can you look objectively at the team, not stand on reputations? And is that part of the reason you think you’ve been brought in?
MM: I think that in the last 20 years, I have assembled a lot of teams. I am benchmarking a lot of business structure and as I told you, this is a different perspective, not in terms of sporting team but definitely assembled team, working with people, managing people from different nationalities with diversity, diversity in the industry, diversity in nationalities. So I will try to bring, if I have some best practice from that but definitely, this is a very specific culture, I’m aware. Time or reaction is completely different. You need to do things that have to happen yesterday, not in two months like in corporate. So I come with a lot of humility to understand and to work very hard. This is what I can commit to the team, to the drivers that are the best drivers in the world. They will have an extremely humble person that will listen and will fight 150% to be a facilitator and to best utilise the talent that is within Ferrari.
What is your strategy? How long before we see your influence on the team?
MM: I am not a great believer in the word ‘strategy.’ I believe that, every day you need to set a target for improvement. As I said, when you first arrive, you look for what is good and I think that in this team, there is a lot a lot of talent. So I am working with the Chairman, with Mr. Montezemolo, in making an assessment and to see what will be needed. At this moment in time, I really cannot make a call on that.
Is it possible for you to ascertain whether you still have a chance (to win) this year’s championship? Or do you feel your work is to start establishing the campaign for next year? And during the race, are you going to be on the pit wall talking to the guys, making decisions in the middle of races?
MM: “I don’t think we are going to give up. Our goal is to close as much as possible the gap to the leader, which at the moment is Mercedes. You all know racing better than me, there are many variables that can influence a lap, a race or a championship. So, as this is the fourth race it is still very early to take a decision. But our objective is to close the gap to Mercedes as soon as possible, which is not an easy task. Will I be on the pit wall? For sure.
What’s the reason you were wearing sunglasses this morning?
MM: It’s a very good question. If you do in four days almost forty hours of flying and you don’t sleep in the last four days, probably you need sunglasses!
You’re not an engineer but how do you plan to make the car go faster, because this is what you are here for? What can be changed compared to your predecessor?
MM: I am not an engineer, but we have 800 people working to make the car faster. I want to get as much motivation as possible to define a certain project to management. I am not the one who will find an extra second on the car. That will be the engineers who work for us.
We were told the news on Monday morning. Can you tell us anymore about the timing?
MM: I received a call at 5.58 on Friday morning from chairman Montezemolo. He told me this was his idea and I told him that April Fools Day had already happened fifteen days earlier. Then, after the first two or three minutes of discussion I realised it was serious and there was already a ticket ready for me to go from New York to Milan in three hours time. So I arrived in Maranello, at the Fiorano track on Saturday morning.
Was this always on your agenda as an ambition for you to come into it or was this as much a surprise to you maybe as to others?
MM: I never had an agenda about what I wanted to be. I always work extremely hard to be prepared for whatever chance would be offered to me in any environment and that’s the beauty of life. I don’t think you can control or plan too much. I think you need to be prepared.
A great team is about great people. Will this be the beginning of an aggressive recruitment drive now for Ferrari?
MM: You raise a great point. A team is made first of people, people, people, people. As I said, the chairman, we discuss and discuss with the first report and clearly, whatever is needed, we will do, even going to the market but with the clear idea that not just for the sake of going shopping but if we will find someone that will bring extreme added value to a team that, according to all of us, is one of the highest level teams that there is Formula 1. So that’s the philosophy at the moment. But whatever is needed will be done.
You mentioned that there was quite a tight timeframe for you getting the job. Have you had any contact with Stefano at all? Has he spoken to you about what to prepare for and given you any advice for it?
MM: Sure, Stefano is a great person. He’s a friend of mine and we spent a few hours on Saturday, Monday we spent the entire day together so yes. As I said, Stefano is a person I have the utmost respect for, first as a human being, second as a professional so it was natural for us to discuss the roles.
Shanghai, 18 April -Track time is always useful, particularly at this early stage of a new Formula era, when every lap completed adds to the knowledge base. However, how beneficial this Friday will turn out to be might well depend on the weather, as after a cold overcast morning followed by a slightly brighter afternoon, tomorrow morning’s practice session is due to be held in the rain, with a doubt over qualifying too.
Scuderia Ferrari was a one-man team in the morning, as Kimi Raikkonen’s F14 T was sidelined with a technical problem after the Finn completed an installation lap. So most of the work fell to Fernando Alonso, evaluating a few new components and starting the job of assessing the Pirelli Mediums and Softs on a track where tyre management is crucial. The long corners at the Shanghai International Circuit put them under a lot of strain, particularly the front left and, as expected, graining is a factor. But if a driver keeps calm and deals with the problem, after a few laps the graining is over and he is left with a tyre that is still good for more laps.
Having been fastest in the morning, under the watchful eye of the new head of the Gestione Sportiva, Marco Mattiacci, Fernando Alonso ended the day in second spot, behind the strongest driver-car combo of the season so far, Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, while the Englishman’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg sandwiched the Ferrari man in third spot. Next up in fourth and fifth places were the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, with Felipe Massa sixth for Williams. Raikkonen was seventh, pleased to have got 25 laps under his belt at last.
No one is expected to really challenge the Mercedes duo in tomorrow’s grid deciding session, unless the weather throws us a curve ball but in the Prancing Horse camp, everyone is pushing hard to be the best of the rest, as the opening quartet of races approaches its end.
Fernando Alonso: “All Fridays are the same, a day when you especially need to test the tyres to adapt to the circuit and on this front, maybe it was less useful than usual, because the forecast for tomorrow suggests rain is on the way. We have brought some small updates here, which we already tried at the Bahrain test. Everything worked well and that’s good news. Leaving aside the performance of the others, I am happy with what we have done today. At every race, all the teams bring something new and we must try and make an additional step forward if we want to be competitive. This track is particularly tough on tyres, with the Softs especially suffering from graining over a long run, so it will be important to work out the tyre plan for Sunday. If it rains tomorrow, we will definitely have less information for the race and we will have to rely on guesswork. Let’s hope we make the right choices.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was a difficult day, that began with a technical problem in the morning session, which meant I only did an installation lap. Once that was sorted out, in the afternoon, we tried to make up for lost time, concentrating mainly on getting the set-up suited to this track, sacrificing some of our race simulation. It’s difficult to give an overall assessment and I definitely missed out a bit because of the lack of track time. This evening we will concentrate on analysing the data we have gathered and tomorrow, we will try and make the very most of the final free practice session to get the car as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race.”
Pat Fry: “It’s been a particularly demanding Friday, both for the drivers on track and for the guys in the garage. In the first session, Kimi’s car stayed in the garage throughout the session after completing his installation lap. With Fernando we managed to complete several aerodynamic tests and carry out some checks on the power unit. The afternoon ran more smoothly and with both cars we worked on balance and power delivery. Even if we are making progress on all fronts, we are well aware that it’s always hard to know where you stand on a Friday. Today’s low temperatures affected tyre performance and even if we can expect the track surface to be in better condition tomorrow, the rain expected for qualifying could turn the session into a real lottery. But more important than making predictions is to stay concentrated on our work.”
Maranello, 18 April – Shanghai is a modern circuit and is very popular within the drivers, because of its fast straights but most of all because it boasts a wide range of corner types which offer the chance to try different racing lines, highlighting the talent of the men behind the wheel.
Let’s go on a virtual lap of the track with Scuderia Ferrari test driver, Pedro de la Rosa. “After the start-finish straight comes the first turn which is very long going through a curve or around 240 degrees. Here you feather the brakes a lot and so the demand on the discs is not great. In fact the whole Shanghai track is not very demanding on the braking system because many of the corners are taken flat out and you make a lot of use of engine braking.
“Turn 14 is the heaviest braking point” – continues De la Rosa – “You go down the box from eighth to second gear and at this point the whole system is under load”. The Chinese track is also difficult in terms of tyre management. Graining is very common because the tyres have to withstand heavy loading because of the aero downforce in the fast corners. “Managing them correctly can be the key to winning this race.”
Sunday’s race is not particularly demanding physically. “Fortunately, the weather is not a problem because it’s still reasonably cool in April” – concludes De La Rosa – “However, wind can be a problem, especially on the straights, as depending whether it’s blowing down the way or against you can definitely affect how you apply the brakes”.
Shanghai, 18 April –Second and seventh places for Scuderia Ferrari in the second free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix, in which Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was fastest with a 1.38.315. Fernando Alonso was second in 1.38.456 ahead of Rosberg in the other Mercedes. The Spaniard completed 28 laps.
As for Raikkonen, his session was much more productive than the first, when he only did one lap. This time he did 25, with a best of 1.39.293, good enough for seventh on the time sheet.
Both Scuderia Ferrari men worked on long runs on the soft tyre to check its performance over a good distance. Alonso then ran the harder Mediums only in the final minutes and they were naturally more consistent.
Shanghai, 18 April – Mixed fortunes for Ferrari in the first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, as Fernando Alonso was fastest in 1.39.783, the only man under the 1m 40s barrier, beating Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes by four tenths. Third was Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull, in a session where several teams seemed to be playing their cards close to their chest.
In the other F14 T, Kimi Raikkonen failed to set a timed lap, only managing one installation lap before having to spend the rest of the 90 minutes in the garage with a technical problem.
Alonso managed 20 laps working on set-up and tyre evaluation. Towards the end, he also did a first long run on a morning when air and track temperatures were particularly low.
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:40.772||0.989||23|
|5||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.175||1.392||16|
|9||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:41.629||1.846||19|
|14||36||Giedo van der Garde||Sauber-Ferrari||1:42.615||2.832||16|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:42.733||2.950||13|
Shanghai, 17 April –A warm and friendly welcome greeted the Scuderia Ferrari drivers on arrival in Shanghai and those sentiments were echoed when they attended a meeting organised by Scuderia Ferrari sponsor Weichai. For its home race the company decided to unveil its new logo which has been on the F14 T since the start of the season.
The drivers were introduced by the President of Weichai, Xuguang Tan who was presented with a bronze Cavallino to celebrate the partnership between the two companies. According to the Chinese horoscope this is the year of the horse and in an exchange of gifts, those from Weichai were also based on sculptures of horses. The drivers answered questions relating to this weekend’s race, which gets underway tomorrow with the start of free practice. Fernando Alonso was particularly complimentary about the Shanghai circuit. “It’s a track the drivers like a lot and winning here last year was a great feeling.”
He also went on to explain that the weather can have a significant effect: “If it was to rain it could overturn the usual order among the teams because driving is much harder in these conditions,” a sentiment Kimi Raikkonen agreed with. “It’s a very demanding track, which depending on the conditions can shake up the field a bit. Of course we will be doing our best to get a good result.” The Finn looked surprised when he discovered he has many fans in this part of the world. “I must say I didn’t know, but I am really happy as it’s always nice to find that so many people appreciate what you do.”
Shanghai, 17 April – In the Ferrari hospitality unit perched above the paddock lagoon, Kimi Raikkonen had his first meeting of the Chinese GP weekend with the world’s media. What did he feel about the departure of Domenicali is what the press wanted to know. “Everyone was a bit surprised but it was Stefano’s own decision,” commented the Finn. “If that’s how he felt then that’s fair enough and life goes on. Personally, I find it sad as he is a great guy and I worked with him for many years. But that’s how it goes and I’m sure the team can handle the current situation.” Kimi then mentioned that he’d met the new man, Marco Mattiacci before, “but I don’t really know him,” he added. “He will find a great team of people around him here, who will help him to settle in quickly. I don’t foresee any problems and I am sure he will do a very good job for us. He will have everything he needs to push us forward. But nothing will change immediately as there are no miracles and we know where we are at the moment. We know in which areas we must improve but it will not happen overnight.”
Kimi did see signs of progress over recent weeks. “At the last race, the overall feeling I had from the car had improved and the problem in Bahrain was just that we were a bit slow,” he maintained. “I expect that already here this weekend we will have improvements on some small things. It’s difficult to say when we will be at the level we want, but with new rules there is always the possibility of suddenly finding a big improvement, but sometimes progress can be slow. It’s important that we now have a better understanding of the car after the first races and we have improved a lot since Melbourne, even if it’s hard to see that because others have also progressed. Bahrain was one of the most difficult races for us and hopefully here it will be a bit better.”
Shanghai, 17 April – Predictably enough, with Fernando Alonso on the panel for the first FIA press conference of the Chinese GP weekend, the hot topic for the Spanish driver was the aftermath of Stefano Domenicali’s decision to retire from his position at the head of Scuderia Ferrari and the appointment of Marco Mattiacci in his place. “We need to give him time and let him settle down,” said Fernando about Mattiacci. “We need everyone to get behind him as fast as possible and try and make him as comfortable as possible from Day One, so that he can be successful in managing the team. I have not had a chance to talk to him yet and I look forward to welcoming him and I will try to help him in any way I can.”
The Spaniard also had words of praise for the outgoing Domenicali. “He was a great man first of all. As a team principal he did good things, even if there were missed opportunities, without which he could have had three championships in his pocket. I am happy with the time we spent together. It’s not easy to do what he did, when you have a privileged position with a Formula 1 team. But he did it for the best interests of Ferrari.”
As for the current situation, the Ferrari driver went straight to the point as usual. “We won’t improve by a second immediately, because Stefano didn’t produce the front or rear wing himself! We will keep trying to improve and we are here to fight back, but we need to be honest, there is a lot of room to improve. We need to be better in all areas and there is a long way to go. In this first part of the championship we have not been as competitive as the top teams, but I hope we can be very competitive later this season.”
Maranello, 15 April – The Formula 1 season has been rushing along at a hectic pace since the curtain raiser in Melbourne, with no less than three Grands Prix taking place in the space of three weeks. The data base of information available to the Scuderia Ferrari engineers has grown since the first race of the year and the numbers generated have been poured over, picked at and used to drive simulation programmes back in Maranello. However, despite the advances made in virtual car development, there is still no substitute for real track time and so Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are looking forward to getting back on track at the Shanghai International Circuit for the fourth round of the world championship.
That’s particularly true given that the Bahrain Grand Prix proved to be the most difficult race so far for the Scuderia. It was no surprise given that the desert track was always going to highlight the weak points of the F14 T, without ever playing to its strengths. “Since the Bahrain race, it’s been a very busy time for us, as we examined all areas of car performance from the power unit to suspension configurations and aerodynamic improvements,” commented Ferrari’s Engineering Director Pat Fry.
All three races so far have been won by the same team and therefore Fry is realistic about the Scuderia’s short term goals. “We are naturally working as hard as we can on closing the gap to the top teams, with Mercedes having a reasonable lead over the rest of the field,” says the Englishman. “Currently, our first priority is to establish ourselves as the second best team. We are looking at all areas of the car – power unit, aero, suspension. We are trying to make as big a step as we can for each and every race.” As for the challenge presented by 56 laps of the 5.451 kilometres of the Shanghai International Circuit, Fry sees it as typical of the modern breed of race circuit. “China’s an interesting track with a good mix of corner types. It begins with the long slow speed corners early in the lap, then a mix of high speed ones in the middle sector, plus a very long straight, about 1.3 kilometres worth, where you need to tune the cars for maximum top speed. However, even with this straight, normally in Shanghai, you find yourself running more towards the top end of the downforce range and with that long straight providing the one real overtaking opportunity, I’m sure everyone will be looking to trade off speed to make sure you can both attack and defend.” There are other challenges in China starting with the long straight, which will ask questions of the still relatively new power units. The brakes will have a much easier time than in previous races, however tyres, particularly the rears, need careful looking after because of the loads imposed by all the very long corners.
It’s proving hard to make predictions this year – at least when it comes to who can challenge the current leaders – so the Scuderia Ferrari crew will approach the Shanghai weekend in its usual methodical way in the hope that lessons learned so far will see the F14 T run more competitively. In his usual blunt way, Kimi Raikkonen sums up perfectly what lies ahead for the Prancing Horse. “We know what we have to do. The people are pushing 100 per cent, but it takes time.”
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