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'I've got pressure on my back' - Domenicali

ESPNF1 Staff
March 11, 2012 « Hamilton ready to make 'sacrifices' in personal life for F1 | Exhaust regulations may need to be tighter in 2013 - FIA »
Stefano Domenicali: "There is pressure, but I feel the support of the whole team" © Getty Images

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 organisation 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 tyres 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 organisation 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."