Domenicali: "...our main interest is the team"
"The main problem for us Sunday was that our tires were really not working," explained Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's team principal Stefano Domenicali after Sunday's 53-lap Italian Grand Prix. Held in mainly wet conditions, after a wet qualifying which saw drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen qualify sixth and 14th respectively, the pair went on to finish sixth and ninth in the race.
|Stefano Domenicali |
"We were not able to get them up to the right temperature to generate the grip and to be fast," continued Domenicali. "We saw that, for example, at the end when the conditions were different, Kimi was able to go quicker and quicker and quicker. He said it was as though he had another car.
"With regard to Felipe," said Domenicali, "he did a great race. If you think he theoretically lost a position - the ones that were on a one stop strategy came in and changed to the right tires straightaway, because they were in the right window. But he was behind them and was not able to attack."
Considering the gap that Felipe had over Lewis at the start, did Domenicali feel that an opportunity was missed to help his championship bid? "For sure. This morning, considering that Lewis was 15th on the grid, it would have been much better for us to gain more points than only one, but that's the reality. In a way that's a half a positive thing that we can say after this race. We take away one more point from the leadership of the Drivers' championship but for sure, considering the situation this morning, we could have done better. But in today's situation, it could have also been worse. If we had been unable to use the tires in the better way, maybe there were other drivers who could have been able to pass us."
So given that Felipe Massa was now just one point behind Hamilton, and Kimi Raikkonen had fallen to 21 points behind, did Domenicali think that it was now time for the team to throw its weight behind Massa with only four races remaining to help him win the Drivers' championship? "I've always said that our main interest is the team. Of course, that's the most important thing and the drivers know it. From now up to the end of the season, in the way that it's possible to do, of course Kimi will do his best to be as aggressive as possible but also consider the fact that Felipe is much closer to the championship leader, Lewis."
Given the tire situation, should the championship be decided by rainy races, would it make Hamilton a favorite to win the Drivers' series? "I don't know," admitted Domenicali. "For sure Hamilton drove a very good race today, a fantastic race. He was very very fast and above all very very consistent. But in rainy conditions you have not only the technical side to control, you may have different situations that you have to handle, so for sure it's not really the atmosphere we like to race in, with rain and cold but we cannot do anything about that so the only thing we have to do is work very hard and see what we can do to improve our situation in these conditions."
Domenicali also explained Massa's race morning engine change. "We had a doubt on that engine, because we didn't understand exactly if we might have a problem. I must say it wasn't related to the conrod situation. But instead of risking something in the race, we decided to use the joker today." This meant that they didn't incur a penalty for the engine change.
Domenicali also explained the timing of the announcement of Kimi Raikkonen's contract extension to the end of 2010. "It was something that we had already discussed since a long time. Normally here in Monza we used to announce something and that was keeping up that tradition."
And finally, Domenicali offered his congratulations to Scuderia Toro Rosso. "They did an extremely fantastic job. They deserve it, they are close to us, we are happy to work with them because we are giving them our engine. And we offer our congratulations to Sebastian Vettel because he drove perfectly and he was able to do a fantastic qualifying yesterday and he was able to do a good race today without taking any risks, above all at the beginning in the difficult conditions, so a really great job."