Ferrari has looked pretty good so far during pre-season testing. At a minimum they look a lot better than a year ago. I found it really funny that a lot of fans on the forums have been rather critical of Stefano Domenicali and Ferrari for playing down their pace heading into Australia. The Italian squad firmly believes they will not be the fastest car for 2013 season opener. While it is hard to judge pace during testing, Fernando Alonso and Ferrari set one of the fastest times at the last test session in Barcelona. The team is very confident in the capability of the F138 and truly thinks they have made the changes necessary to make that next step.
This type of talk should not come as a surprise to any fan. Ferrari has made it a habit for as long as I can remember of playing down their car. Even when Michael Schumacher would take double digit victories during the course of a season, the opening remarks were always the same. Ross Brawn would always play down the Ferrari’s pace and when the first round of the championship would arrive, they would take the fight right out of the opposition.
The point is preseason testing is full of top team sandbagging. Red Bull has said all of two words I think in regards to testing while McLaren has remained quiet. The language coming out of Ferrari and Domenicali should actually be comforting to the Tifosi. Their pace has been on point and there has been little talk of the team missing the boat on car design last year. We also have to remember the rules have changed very little from last season. The chassis did get better last year and was a serious threat as the title ended. Formula One is as close as it has been in a very long time. If I am Ferrari or a fan of the team, I am taking a lot of comfort my season has started as well as it has.
The point that would make me nervous is the team tactics and race strategy. That is one area Ferrari have looked foolish in recent years. When the driver puts the car in a position to succeed, the team finds a way to ruin any chance of a good result by terrible race strategy. I think Ferrari has a very good car this year and this is more typical sandbagging that is custom during the offseason. If that car is anywhere even remotely close to the top, you can count on Fernando Alonso delivering a great result. So take a deep breath and remove yourself from Stefano’s back and rest easy and take comfort that you will be fighting for victory in Australia.