May 8th, 2013 (F1plus/G. Roche).- All the attention has been lately on the Lotus team, its number driver Kimi Raikkonen and now James Allison, whose departure got things louder. Then we have Vettel and Red Bull dominance, which allowed Ferrari to somewhat pass under the radar and "enjoy" a time of calm...well...so we think.
We arrive to Barcelona and with that the European season starts; seven races plus Canada sandwiched in the middle. Things will change and we will get a better perspective of the things to come. The eternal -its been three years of Red Bull dominance, and surely it feels eternal- question remains of who will bring and have what it takes to take down Vettel, Newey, Horner and Co.
It seems that task might in the hands of just a few; Lotus and Kimi, and of course Ferrari's Alonso. We could add Hamilton and Rosberg (more the former), but quite frankly it looks far-fetched that a real threat will come from the Brackley team. Of McLaren we know they would need a miracle to just outperform everyone at this point. Lastly, we have Mark Webber who now fights not only against the rest of the grid but unfairly with his team.
As such, we come back to Ferrari and Alonso. No doubt that F138 is far better car that what the 2013 predecessor was, and the Spaniard seems to be in better shape. However, let's not forget that Alonso earned unexpected and greatly valuable points at Malaysia with that enormous victory in 2012.
Let's not overlook that all points at Massa in a much better performance run, which might aid his teammate in the championship quest. Last couple years he was not a factor.
So, what would Ferrari bring for Barcelona?
Basically all team are bringing their own upgrade packages, with the attention probably centered on McLaren given the deficiencies seen in the MP4-28.
We think, Ferrari might make things more complicated for Red Bull in the long run. The usually cautious team, in terms of revealing emotions, gave a hint of what might be coming.
"I think in general, the first results mean we can be reasonably optimistic about the rest of the season, with a sense that we can fight for wins and the championship," explained Tombazis, Ferrari Chief Designer.
But then, he conceded that more could have been achieved, clearly stating that there's room to grow and do better.
"However, if I was to score our overall performance, I would only give it a six out of ten and that’s for two main reasons: one is that we are not yet quite where we want to be."
For the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix, Tombazis outlined that there will be several updates in the bodywork, floor and wing. Both drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, are due to test on Friday.
"I believe most of our competitors will have a significant number of updates in Spain, which is not surprising, as there was a reasonably long gap after the first four races," Tombazis commented.
"Of course, we too have updates and naturally, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but they extend to the bodywork, floor and wings." He added.
Like any new component or change in configuration there will be a testing period to actually defined the if it worth or not and if performance will be gained after all.
"With any new component, the difficulty lies not so much in its development but in deciding whether or not it is working on-track as well as we had hoped. By Friday evening, our objective is to have a clear view on what we will take forward to the race, in the hope of seeing measurements taken from the wind tunnel confirmed on-track."
Still, Ferrari has a good opportunity to get close in the standings table in a race that for sure motivates both drivers that have also won it in the past. Alonso being the 'homeboy will carry over his shoulders a fair amount of pleasure to deliver (he is used to it) but with that it comes also extra motivation.
“The warmth of the fans and the feeling you get when you race in Spain are always special, from the moment you arrive at the airport and you head to the hotel and the circuit.
From the first laps on the track on Friday and Saturday morning you can immediately feel the passion of the fans in the grandstands and that sparks off extra motivation because you want to do that little bit extra to make sure they can celebrate." Alonso said.
Felipe Massa he will look to keep his upward trend, and pass the page of that awful Bahrain GP where he had to deal with two punctures among other things.
My best memory from Barcelona came in 2007 when I won the race: it was a great victory in front of a fantastic crowd that saw me fight with many opponents – including Fernando, who was then at McLaren. Obviously I’m not happy with my last race in Bahrain and so I hope to be able to get back to fighting for the top places this weekend.” Massa said.