Domenicali: "Staying cool and not overreacting makes the difference"
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's new team principal, Stefano Domenicali put a brave face on his team's performance in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne. Neither car took the checkered flag, but Kimi Raikkonen was eventually classified eighth although both his and teammate Felipe Massa's car were stopped by engine problems.
"It was very tough, no doubt," admitted Domenicali. "The result speaks for itself. Unfortunately it was a dreadful weekend. Nothing went as planned, so it was difficult. But if you remember in 2006 we had a similar start with the two DNF and we were able to catch up again.
"We weren't phenomenal guys before this race and we are not stupid after it, so we really need to analyze in all the details what has happened. And of course the main concern is to understand the reliability problems. We had two engine failures so this is the main issue to understand."
Domenicali explained that the team didn't know what happened to Raikkonen's engine. "We need to understand the problem. We knew that the engine was ready to finish, but at that stage, looking at the number of laps and fighting for points, but unfortunately we didn't finish. With such a disastrous weekend, if we score one point it's really one plus."
The team's reliability came as a shock, said Domenicali. "It was a surprise after so many kilometers we did in the winter. We need to understand why exactly did that happen." Could the heat - 37 degrees during the race - have caused the problem? "To be honest, I can't answer because we haven't yet seen the engine. As soon as we understand the problems they need to be fixed.
Asked how he expected the team to react for next week's Malaysian Grand Prix, Domenicali said "you can see that we can have the chance to react straight away. And of course we need to be very careful in all the analysis of all the details. And on the other hand we need to understand if we have the time to fix the problems that we had. That's it."
Ferrari were concerned about their one lap qualifying performance, said Domenicali. "Qualifying is a key factor because starting behind you lose so much. We've seen Kimi staying behind Rubens for so many laps, and then when he had a clear track he was able to manage perfect times in terms of consistency and in terms of performance. It was good. I think this is the key point we need to understand. This is something we have always suffered. So we need to understand how we can improve that.
"That's why it's a shame, because once again we showed that with a few laps of clear track we showed the potential and that the performance is there during the race. No doubt. We need to understand now in order to improve qualifying."
Asked why Ferrari opted for the softer tires at the start of the race, Domenicali explained "if you look at the tire degradation I think it was the right choice. Of course, with traffic it is difficult to overtake. We tried to have better grip at the start as it was important to try to overtake. But I think it was the right choice."
Domenicali also defended the team's decision not to call Raikkonen into the pits when the safety car was out. "That was a decision that, if you analyze, (you'll see) we couldn't gain any positions. By doing it the other way around, we had a few more laps and we could try to overtake someone and try to increase the gap. For us the safety car came out at the worst moment. The second one was perfect for others but it was a disaster for us. That's the way it is."
However, Domenicali was very philosophical as to the next course of action. "As I said before, we need to stay very cool and not overreact because that makes the difference."