July 8th, 2013 (F1plus/E. Black).- At the beginning of the season, it seemed as though Ferrari and Lotus may have been the most competitive teams to challenge Red Bull for Formula One supremacy.
Lotus still appears to be competitive, however, their main advantage over most of the field was tyre management. The recent changes to the compounds selected for each race by Pirelli has had an influence in nullifying this advantage. A fact that Lotus is none too happy with. The less aggressive compound selections have certainly affected the Enstone team's competitiveness.
Track-side operations director Alan Permane has recently said, "They (Pirelli) certainly seem conservative and contrary to the supposed approach for the tyre allocations in 2013..." Even with this in mind, their performance in Germany didn't seem to suffer much (if at all) as they finished in second and third not far off the lead.
Ferrari may also be a victim in part to the tyre selections, however it does appear that the Italian team is in a bit of slump. While rivals seem to have made some performance strides, Ferrari may not have made the same gains.
Team principle Domenicali admitted, "The British Grand Prix in terms of performance was not very good..." He continued, "We need to understand in these two or three days at home why, because there is something that is bigger than the little details that caused us not to be better at Silverstone in terms of pace, qualifying and everything. This is the most important thing we have to work on, understanding where to recover the performance."
In the past, Ferrari blamed their wind tunnel for issues with correlation and thus the lack of performance gains. Since using Toyota's wind tunnel in Cologne Germany however, one would expect that this excuse can no longer be used. If ever there was a season for Ferrari to make good, it would be this one.
2014 and all it's technical regulation changes could see a new pecking order. Ferrari, already concerned over turbo-engine reliability and fuel consumption, may have its best chance at a title before next season. If Ferrari fails to right the wayward ship, they could fall out of championship contention if Mercedes continue to improve in form.
Then we arrive to Germany where Felipe Massa's Ferrari suffered a gearbox failure with it being stuck in fifth causing the Brazilian to crash/spin and retire. Alonso meanwhile tried to make the most of the day but was unable to catch Grosjean in the closing stages. He pulled off at the end of the race for what Ferrari said were precautionary reasons.
One might guess that the Spaniard pushed hard in the last laps in an effort to capture the podium, which caused him to consume more fuel than expected. Pulling off to conserve what little fuel he may have had left in order to avoid a penalty by the FIA for not being able to provide enough for a fuel sample.
Alonso finished 4th with a total time of 1:41.22.432. On lap 51, he snagged the fastest lap of the race (1.33.468), which should be some consolation to the Italian team. It was a decent damage limitation type drive, but finishing fourth while the title leader is winning and collecting maximum points is simply not enough.
Everyone at Ferrari realize that they're in trouble and in need of better performance and reliability. The team finds itself in a position it has been in before and is also aware of what needs to be done. The only thing Ferrari can do is work hard; it has no control over what it's rivals do and the gains they make.