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Domenicali's job on the line UPDATE #2 Stefano Domenicali won't be head of the Ferrari race team much longer if rumors are to believed.

There had been strong hints in pre-season testing that all was not well at Formula One’s most successful team but few would have predicted that neither Fernando Alonso nor Felipe Massa would be on the track when the final 10 places on the grid were being decided.

Alonso finished 12th after spinning off into the gravel in the second qualifying session, while Brazilian Massa will start on the eighth row on Sunday after being knocked out in the second round and qualified 16th.

“We can only be disappointed after this qualifying session,” said team boss Stefano Domenicali.

“It hurts to have neither driver on track for the final part of the session, even if we know that Fernando had every chance of getting at least this far if he had not got caught up in one of those incidents that are part of the game.

“I understand that at the moment our fans are disappointed but I would urge them to be cautious before making any definitive judgment,” he said. “We need to remain calm and concentrated.”

“Today, we lacked performance, especially because we did not have enough aerodynamic downforce and we are still lacking in top speed,” he said. In other words the car is a lemon.

“Tomorrow we will be racing defensively and will try and do what we can… There’s no point getting angry as it does not serve any purpose.”

Massa, already on notice that he is driving for his place in the team this season after failing to get on the podium last year, said the car felt worse than in winter testing.

“The balance of the car was never what I wanted and I never managed to get a clean lap,” he said.

“I was always lacking grip…and I suffered with oversteer on entry and understeer on exit.

“Clearly we are behind, maybe more than we had expected and there are other teams that have improved a lot compared to last year,” he added.

Luca di Montezemolo
(GMM)  Luca di Montezemolo insists heads will not roll, as Ferrari looks set to race into the 2012 season without the chance of a podium.

The famous team wrote off last year's championship early to focus on 2012 with an aggressive project, with new British technical chief Pat Fry in the spotlight.

But also feeling the pressure is team boss Stefano Domenicali, who said at the weekend that he has "the support of president Montezemolo".

"I am not the one who designs the car: my task is to give my people everything they need in terms of organization and structure," said the Italian.

But Montezemolo denied that Ferrari will react in arguably typical fashion by making sweeping changes.

"I've always given my staff time and trust," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.  "We have not even begun and already you're putting the people in doubt?

"Let's not have that talk," insisted the Ferrari president.

He admitted the F2012 has untapped potential.

"There are too few tests and unfortunately they are in public.  But I would still wait before drawing conclusions about the title fight.

"According to the drivers, the F2012 has some negative elements, but also some positive.  The problems have been identified and I hope they can be fixed quickly," he added.

Domenicali feeling the pressure after another poor Ferrari design
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted he is feeling the pressure after his team's difficult pre-season testing campaign, but says no conclusions should be drawn about the order at the front of the grid until after the first four races of the season.

Ferrari struggled to understand its new car during testing, as the F2012 showed positive signs over one-lap but was inconsistent over longer runs. After two years starting on the back foot, Ferrari was hoping for a strong start to 2012 and president Luca di Montezemolo is hoping for a quick turnaround following testing. 

"I've got pressure on my back, which is as it should be," Domenicali said. "I am not the one who designs the car: my task is to give my people everything they need in terms of organization and structure. Having said that, I am very much aware of my responsibilities. There is pressure, but I feel the support of the whole team and of president Montezemolo."

Asked if there was panic at Ferrari, he responded: "There is none of this, just an awareness of where we stand. We have been realistic when communicating about the problems we have had, because transparency is part of the way I go about things. The lack of satisfaction comes from the fact we did not meet our technical targets and so everything refers to ourselves. Where we are compared to the others, we do not know for certain and our lack of satisfaction might also turn out to be excessive. Having said this, a clearer picture of the hierarchy on track will only emerge after the first four races."

Domenicali said Ferrari's main problem had been with its exhaust layout, which it had to change at the final two tests to bring the exhaust pipes further inboard. He said the original design was still being worked on and would be reintroduced to the car at the Mugello test after the fourth race.

"We had asked our engineers for an extreme car, because without that, we would have been unable to close the gap to the best," he added. "The first configuration of the exhausts showed good potential, but it caused problems: the tires overheated and the performance was unstable. Therefore we had to change, even if I certainly was not happy about it. We are still working on the original set up, but we will be unable to test it until the Mugello test at the beginning of May, because we believe it could give us a good performance advantage."

Domenicali admitted Ferrari is still struggling with the shift from track testing to CFD and wind tunnel work - an area he admits his team is still lacking in.

"In 2010, we began a new technical cycle: important steps were taken in terms of the organization and working methodology and here I'm thinking mainly about the areas of simulation and strategy," he said. "Aerodynamics is not yet at an adequate level: it's not easy finding the right people, but this has to be a stimulus for those who work for us. I tell you this as someone who experienced the Schumacher era first hand and I recall how much we suffered before getting there. Ferrari will be back with another winning cycle as the basics are in place to achieve it.

"This year, Red Bull again starts out in front. McLaren is on form, Mercedes has taken a step forward and Lotus is looking strong, but they also began well last year. Toro Rosso and Force India also seem good, especially on a flying lap. So there might be some surprises at the start and then the situation will settle down but I expect everyone to be much closer to each other than in 2011." Planet F1

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