Domenicali: "Our competitors are very close"
"I don't think it's correct to say that we dominated because if you look at the championship, the situation is very close." That was the view of Ferrari's team principal Stefano Domenicali after Felipe Massa's win for his team in the Turkish Grand Prix outside Istanbul on Sunday.
|Domenicali with his two drivers Massa and Raikkonen in Istanbul|
"It was important for us to react after the first Grand Prix in Australia, with only one point scored," explained Domenicali, for whom Sunday's win was a welcome 43rd birthday present, "but once again, it's not dominating. Today's race shows that our competitors are very very close."
Indeed, Domenicali thinks that the next two races in Monaco and Canada will see the competition become stronger. "I think we will need to react for these two races because last year was very difficult for us. We have prepared the race with a different approach, we will also see next week in Paul Ricard where we have some tests to see if what we have prepared is going in the right way.
"By the way, I think that not only McLaren will be strong. I am expecting Renault and BMW of course to be strong again, above all on the track where qualifying can be different. You can be aggressive but then even if you run longer at that circuit, everything will be different, so I think Monte Carlo will be a very important race for everyone.
"I'm expecting the others - not only McLaren but BMW, Renault - to be very aggressive there. So we need to think very carefully how to approach qualifying because that, for sure, will affect the race more than at other tracks, so it's two weeks of very hard work to try to see how we think we need to work and also how we think the others will attack us, above all in qualifying."
Domenicali paid tribute not only to Massa but also his third-placed teammate, Kimi Raikkonen. "He's always a great professional driver, he's always fully dedicated to the team, to his work, and we always said we are very happy about our two drivers. It's not a way of protecting them when there are difficult situations, it's because we feel that the potential of these two drivers in the team is perfect. They are very well integrated, they show respect, they complement one another and basically, Felipe did a great race today, not only the race but the entire weekend was perfect."
Domenicali pointed out that rivals McLaren changed their philosophy during the race, changing challenger Lewis Hamilton to a three stop strategy. "Of course the performance of McLaren that we saw today during the race was very good. I always said that they are very strong and I believe that and I think that today we saw another standard that is completely different from the past, that McLaren in order to attack us changed the philosophy of the race and changed the philosophy of qualifying, above all with Lewis. I think this is important, because they also have to react to our performance. By the way, I think that as I have always said, the championship is very very long, it's always tough and I'm expecting for them still to be very aggressive."
Finally, there were two crucial points in the race, one when Raikkonen made contact with compatriot Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren at the first corner, and later when Hamilton came up to overtake Massa.
Did Ferrari consider changing Raikkonen's front wing, slightly damaged in the first corner contact? "Yes, we considered that," said Domenicali. "We had the luck to have the safety car slow down the cars so we checked what we could see on TV, then checked the data, and also when he passed by. It seemed that everything was alright, no major problem on the data so we decided to carry on."
On the second question, Domenicali said that "after the first pit stop we were already almost sure about Lewis's strategy, that was the reason why we said to Felipe to be cautious when he was attacked by Lewis because we were aware that he was much lighter at that time." While Hamilton's strategy allowed him to confirm his second place, he was unable to challenge Massa, and indeed, Raikkonen was right behind the McLaren at the finish.