The secret to a good race
Qualifying. That's the secret to a good race, according to Ferrari's head of track operations, Luca Baldisserri. Speaking after the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, where his two cars finished third and fourth behind the McLarens, Baldisserri explained "Qualifying is important, the race pace is also important. The problem is that being behind in qualifying means that we will have a difficult race and especially if we lose positions at the start.
"So being behind other cars, again, the performance of the car tends to decrease even more and because you are behind slow cars, you lose ten seconds in the first stint and it's nearly impossible to recover, even if you have better consistency in the car and in the tires."
Baldisserri's colleague, sporting director Stefano Domenicali certainly saw some positives in the 73 lap race, however, even though Kimi Raikkonen lost two places off the grid. "What we need to do is to make a good analysis of the start, to understand why we lost two positions. As we know, it's already difficult to start behind and then if you fall back behind other drivers, it's more difficult. But having said that, if you look at Kimi's race today it was really good.
"The stint that he did was very very impressive and looking positive it's a very good sign for the future. No doubt that we are not happy about today's result. Third and fourth is not our standard, because we wanted to come here in North America to try to reduce the gap and we did the opposite because we lost 15 points, in comparison to our main competitors. So for sure, it's not a very positive weekend globally here in North America, but the race that Kimi did today is something that can be considered as a positive of Indianapolis."
Baldisserri went on to be more specific about Ferrari's qualifying problems, in relation to their main competitors. "To be honest, this is our pace in qualifying. Maybe a tenth better, maybe but it would seem that when McLaren put on new tires, they are much more consistently quick than us. Our point is that sometimes when we put on a new set we can be very very quick but a lot of times we do mistakes and this means that we are on the limit.
"There's a slight correlation with the new soft compound tire, so we have tried to investigate more in that direction what we are missing and that's the main point of development. But I don't think that the improvements made after the first three races - aerodynamically, mechanically, with the engine - have had an effect on that.
"Everybody has the same tires, so the grip is there, because other cars are able to use the grip, that's the problem. The grip is there and you have to use the grip in the best way as possible, so that's the key point and the whole factory at home are concentrated on trying to understand this."
This week, however, the team will be at Silverstone where they hope to begin the fight back. "We have a completely different aerodynamic package to try at Silverstone," says Baldisserri. "so hopefully we can have another step aerodynamically. We hope that the weather will be with us to At the moment we have quite a lot of rainfall forecast."
Set-up changes might also provide pace, said Baldisserri. "That could be a solution, an easy solution. If we can find, with the set-up, the two or three tenths that at the moment we are missing, they will be welcome and it would be a straightforward solution. Unfortunately I don't think they are all there. We have to understand, investigate all the areas: aerodynamically, mechanically but on the engine as well."
Summarizing, Domenicali explained "for sure, what is clear is that our main competitors have made a step forward, above all in qualifying, and as we know, qualifying is very crucial. So what we need to do is to keep on working, trying to understand the things that we did in the past, what we already have to be tested, for example next week in Silverstone.
"We don't have to over-react, we need to work, altogether, at home, on all parts of the car, at the track, with the drivers, all the team. We were faster at the beginning of the season, McLaren is faster now and our objective is to go faster again and be faster than McLaren again, that's for sure. The message that we want to give is that we know that this is the moment that we need to react but we don't give up at all, the season is really very very long."