Ferrari have been the mystery of pre-season. The Scuderia’s 2014 challenger has been reasonably reliable and has looked quick – at least in the final test, once the performance and set-up work had diminished the ‘squirely’ handling characteristics which were visibly hampering the F14 T’s drive-ability. However, the strength of the Ferrari package was unbelievably difficult to gauge and even now, pundits are still unable to pinpoint where Ferrari will be come Melbourne. It is a tricky task for all teams, but the F14 T has that added mystery.
Domenicali Adds To The Intrigue
If deciphering the Ferrari conundrum was bad enough, Stefano Domenicali’s comments today have made the situation even more intriguing. The Ferrari boss has suggested that the team could be third in the current pecking order, behind Mercedes and the Mercedes-powered Williams team. “From what we have seen so far, there are two teams out in front, Mercedes and Williams. After them, it could be us,” the Italian stated. There are a number of reasons why this suggestion is so interesting. Firstly, Stefano has not identified whether he is talking about one lap performance or race run analysis – After the excellent race runs completed by McLaren over the course of this winter, I would be willing to hazard a guess and suggest that he is talking about single lap performance. This is also backed up by the timesheet from the final four days in Bahrain, which saw Massa on top, followed by the Mercedes duo, Bottas and then Fernando Alonso.
Regardless, Domenicali has contradicted Fernando Alonso’s suggestions from just a few days ago, that the team had no-idea of the current pecking-order. When he was informed that Nico Rosberg had knowledge of a potential order, he laughed, “I will have to go and speak to Nico, because I would be interested to know.” Either Ferrari have developed an understanding of their position in just three days, or Stefano is playing mind games. I would suggest the latter.
However, the likelihood is that I am over-thinking it. The lap times suggest that Ferrari are the third fastest team, yet with fuel loads undisclosed, it is still a bold statement from Domenicali. Surly, it would be more advisable to take the Alonso approach and dodge the question. What this has done, is place pressure on Ferrari to deliver in Melbourne. However, with such little knowledge of where Ferrari really are, could Domenicali be sending out a red-herring? Is it possible that third in the pecking order is underestimating the performance within the F14 T? This statement throws up more questions than answers. Its another intriguing storyline in an intriguing pre-season. Where are Ferrari?