Ferrari chiefs discuss their drivers
Felipe's weekend was fantastic and this was due to his capability - and to the car of course." That's how Ferrari's technical director Mario Almondo summarized Felipe Massa's win in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, but both Almondo and sporting director Stefano Domenicali (pictured right) paid tribute to the Brazilian's ability to turn around his performance following a poor start and losing the Malaysian Grand Prix to Fernando Alonso the week before. It was not possible to do much work since the last race," continued Almondo. "Of course, we went through videos and all that stuff, looking at last year's race and the last start, trying to go into as much detail as we could, but you can't do anything specific.
"This is the difficult part of the job, because the success of today is linked to Felipe's mental attitude which I have to say was fantastic. The concentration is evident to everybody. The car gave him the possibility to do what he did but basically it's very good revenge for him and we are very happy for him."
Domenicali explained that "Felipe's strength was to react straightaway from one week ago in Malaysia. Everyone said that Felipe was no longer a driver. As always you need to look at the average, and I think that he reacted very very well and that shows his character. I think that he's grown a lot, because he wanted to show first to himself and also to all of us who he is. For sure, his strength is that he had a great reaction in terms of behavior and approach to this race."
Domenicali went on to talk about teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third on Sunday. "Kimi's best characteristic is that he's always cool, he's always looking behind the fence. He's not emotionally involved - at least, apparently not - because he's a thinker and you can see that. If you look at the numbers, Kimi's leading the championship with the others of course, but he's there, so that's his strength."
Almondo added "for sure after this weekend we can say that both drivers have a very good capability of reaction to difficult situations; that's important."
But both men warned of the capabilities of their two main rivals: McLaren and BMW Sauber. "We know that McLaren are very strong," said Domenicali. "We know they push us to work more than we should. We always said, from the beginning, that we know that this is a very difficult championship, that's for sure. McLaren is the main competitor but also BMW has grown a lot. Today (Sunday) and also the last race in Malaysia has shown that, so the championship is really very very tight and we have to work, our drivers have to work on details and everything but that is part of the game, and also, on the other hand, they have to work."
Almondo added a caution: "if you are surprised that someone is doing a good job, you are under-rating them and that's something we never do, to be honest."
With a four week gap to the next race in Spain, all eleven teams will be hard at work with testing and developments, as well as sorting out the odd mystery. Raikkonen had mentioned his car's first lap performance. "We can't talk about a specific problem but an optimization that has to be done on the first lap and in handling the car," said Almondo. "His driving style is something that we are evolving in the direction of better performance and use of the car and the package of the car plus the tires and this, as I said, is a normal and natural process that takes more time.
"The only thing that we can do is work as hard as we can with our development program. There will be an important aero package and a few other things. We have an aerodynamic test at Vairano and then in Barcelona before the race. It's up to our competitors to do more than what we are going to do. I cannot make any prediction on what we have to do."
Asked if there is a new energy in the team as the two drivers fought against one another but also their rivals, Domenicali said "from our side, just don't forget that we are working for Ferrari, that's the team and for us that's the most important thing to do. For sure it's great to see two drivers that are challenging in a very sporting way, they are very very strong and I'm pretty sure the championship will be fantastic this year, because we have seen some other drivers that are very strong. The challenge is really to be in front of them, so it's really good."
Asked if this was a different kind of the championship to manage, after years of dominance by Michael Schumacher, Domenicali replied "no, as always the track will give the answer at the end. For us, it's important that they will have maximum support from the team, both from an engineering point and from a psychological point of view and from the motivation point of view, and then once again, it's the lap time and the track that will give the answer." Ferrari