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Ferrari confident it can be competitive at Hockenheim

ESPN Staff
July 17, 2012 « New hard compound to be tested at Hockenheim | HRT 'belong' in F1 - Karthikeyan »
Race engineer Andrea Stella is confident of another strong performance in Germany © Sutton Images
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Fernando Alonso's race engineer Andrea Stella is expecting Ferrari to be competitive again at Hockenheim this weekend.

Alonso has finished first and second at the last two races and is currently 13 points clear of Mark Webber at the top of the drivers' championship. After being quick on both the street circuit at Valencia and the fast and flowing Silverstone, Stella believes the F2012 will also be quick at Hockenheim.

"The car was good in Valencia, it was also good in Silverstone," he said. "And as Hockenheim is a mix of the slow speed of Valencia and high speed of Silverstone, I would expect Ferrari to be competitive in Germany.

"In the past in Hockenheim, managing the tyres was difficult, especially the front left and sometimes we also saw blistering on the rear tyres. So it could be an interesting weekend from the tyre point of view."

Ferrari started the season struggling for traction and lacking straight-line speed, but Alonso still managed to accumulate a decent amount of points. A series of updates since the in-season test at Mugello have improved the car's traction, but Stella said the team is less concerned about the lack of straight-line speed.

"You always want to get more and more top speed as it brings benefits in terms of reducing the lap time and it makes life easier during the race. But of course, top speed is the counterpart to downforce and in a way, if we are limited when it comes to top speed, that is partly because our car is performing well when it comes to downforce. However, it is definitely an area where we are trying to improve for the future."

Despite the improvements, Stella said the way the team operates has not changed massively from the start of the season.

"We simply adapted the aerodynamic development of the car and progress also came as we gained a better understanding of the tyres," he added. "In fact, the tyres have been a major challenge this year, as well as optimising the aerodynamics, the latter because of the change of rules in this area compared to last year. However, another important challenge we all face this year is not so much a technical one, but stems from the fact that the performance level of many of the cars is extremely close."