Ferrari boss cautious about team

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:57 PM ET

TORONTO - There could be a revolutionary change in the way Formula One teams prepare for Grands Prix this season.

Ferrari boss of bosses Stefano Domenicali said this week in a team release that with new tire compounds winter testing showed that pit strategy, and not qualifying, will decide the 2011 world driving championship.

For the past several decades the fastest car in qualifying always was assumed to have a gigantic advantage in race because F-1 circuits are so notoriously difficult to pass on.

But Domenicali concedes that it may not be the case this season.

“From what we have seen in winter testing, these tires are very different to those we used in the past,” Domenicali said.

“Therefore, we have to adopt a fresh approach and clearly, from what we have seen so far, the number of pitstops required to complete a race distance competitively will be higher than before.

“This is significant in terms of teamwork at the races, because more pitstops means the role of team members becomes even more important in terms of deciding the final outcome of the races. A further impact of having more pitstops is that possibly qualifying and therefore grid position will be less important than in 2010.”

That is the rub, according to Domenicali. He said that team plans that placed the most importance on qualifying will now have to be changed if the Italian squad hopes to supplant Red Bull Racing at the top of the F-1 world.

“In simple terms it is more likely that a car that has not set the fastest time and taken pole position can still go on to win the race,” he said. “It will be absolutely vital to have the right strategy in order to win the race.”

Domenicali said that doesn’t mean he thinks that Ferrari is behind the other teams on speed alone. In fact, he said the prancing pony team was very happy with the test results from its off-season tests but he was still cautious about where the team stands against its rivals.

“The atmosphere in the team is good and everyone is keen to get to work in Melbourne, to see where we are compared to the other teams,” he said. “I am by nature very cautious so in assessing how we went during (testing), I have to take into account how we worked through our program, as well as looking at what the other teams did and because we do not know exactly what the others were doing in testing, I have to remain cautious in rating our own work.”

FINISH LINES

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dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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