Press Conference Stefano Domenicali, Director of the Ferrari Formula 1 Team Scarperia, 12th January 2009 - "Hello, everybody and Happy New Year! It will be a very interesting year for all of us as far as our sport is concerned. Let me explain...
Press Conference Stefano Domenicali, Director of the Ferrari Formula 1 Team
Scarperia, 12th January 2009 - "Hello, everybody and Happy New Year! It will be a very interesting year for all of us as far as our sport is concerned. Let me explain to you why the new single-seater is called F60; it's the fifty fifth single-seater built by Ferrari specifically to compete in the Formula 1 World Championship; it's the 60th edition of the F1 Championship and Ferrari is the only team, which has participated in all 60 editions. The sport is closely linked to the Team. It is a historical date, but with a look to the future. It is a difficult moment "and it is the moment to look ahead and the goal is that we will have a F120 one day." These were the first words of Stefano Domenicali, Director of the Ferrari Formula 1 Team, at the press conference on the day of the F60's debut at Mugello. "Our DNA lets us continue in this sport and we're looking ahead; we're optimistic even in this difficult period for the whole system. I'm convinced that when we manage to pass this critical situation Formula 1 will be stronger than it ever was. This is Ferrari's main task; always in Formula 1."
Domenicali also spoke about the Team's goals for the 2009 season, which will start 29th March at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit. "Staying on top. Over the last ten years we have won eight times. The project is extremely difficult now, beyond what we have already planned. Over the last months we introduced several modifications, to find solutions, to limit costs. These modifications had an impact on the car's technical preparations. There will be even more challenges and technical modifications to do in the short term. I think that who will be able to exploit the car the best way possible, will prevail against the other teams; everybody's goal is to maximise the results we have to bring home."
As far as the internal organization of the Ferrari motor sports department is concerned, the Scuderia's Director spoke about the underlying logic of the past years. "Ours is a logic of dynamic stability, promoted by our President; the organization's modifications go in this direction. To improve every single aspect of the Team, whilst strengthening the areas, where we didn't give 100% at the same moment."
As far as the general view of Formula 1 in this very moment is concerned, Domenicali said: "Ferrari stands in the front row to save Formula 1's scope; I think that under Luca di Montezemolo's presidency there has been a strong input as far as the future scope is concerned. The goals, the structures and the teams realities are different, but we're all working for the good of all; and that is why the teams are very united, which is a new element in this sport, considering that we are in a very particular period. Nobody wants to oppose the FIA, but there is a constructive logic, where everybody wants to have a strong and constructive voice, because we live Formula 1. In 2009 we've seen the impulse given by the teams and we could immediately find an agreement, which is very important. We're just at the beginning and together with the technical development we're working every day on also improving the political aspects of Formula 1. What this sport needs now is great stability and to make clear which direction and future programmes it will take, because those who invest in Formula 1 need to know where Formula 1 is heading. We have sponsors, who have been with us for a long time and who believe in racing. 2009 will be a dense year in terms of sport and politics.
The drivers, Domenicali said, are highly motivated and they are here today to test the new car, which is a different and complex project. At the moment we're analyzing the data and have been out for our first run. We know that it will be a very particular and stimulating season from every point of view.
Referring to the KERS, the kinetic energy recovery system, introduced in 2009, Domenicali said: "First of all I want to make a political consideration as far as the KERS is concerned: our position, which we discussed with other teams, is, that in a moment, when one has to reduce costs, the introduction of such a system is a contradiction in terms. We can decide if we want to use the KERS in our car and when it's clear that the system will effectively improve the performance, which it seems to do in simulations, it will be our task and technical challenge, to push on with it. Today is a very important day also as far as this system is concerned and we're testing the new system on the track. I don't expect any surprises; but we'll definitely see the problems when it's used on the track. As you know tests are limited to 15,000 kilometres this year and there's no possibility to test after the start of the season. I expect that test stands and simulations will be used much more. As I already said there will be many more problems, but our main objective is reliability. Last year we paid a high price; this year, with a new system as complex as the KERS, our main objective is the verification of the reliability. The car on the track today confirms it; it's fitted with the KERS."
One of the journalists spoke about the importance of the human error in last year's Championship, asking if in 2009 the protocols as far as quality control and Team are concerned have changed: "The procedural reliability is part of the overall reliability," Domenicali said. "Human errors remain a characteristic of the team and the drivers, which gives a certain humanity to racing. We tried to improve the procedures and we introduced people from different areas to improve the procedures and increase concentration. Although human error will always be a part."
As far as the possibility is concerned that the teams will show up less prepared to GPs, due to new regulations and restrictions, the Scuderia's Director confirmed: "The new approach will lead to a completely different interpretation of the race weekends. The drivers might have a more important role: if the systems will work at 100% the drivers will have an extremely big delta performance, which will find its expression in tenths of a second; then there will be new tyres and the engine speed will be different; we have to understand how to deal with it the best possible way; and then there is the new wing the drivers have to get used to. The drivers are facing a season, in which they might have to give a bigger contribution I think."
As far as cost cuts, at Ferrari and the other teams, are concerned, Domenicali said: "It's difficult to say, because it's different for every team. We're working with the FOTA to determine if and how much we can reduce the costs. At best we can talk about percentages, because the organizational evaluations are different for the teams. Formula One's reorganization must not touch the technological part, but, as in our case, has to relate more to a contribution to production vehicles. The excesses of the past years have to be cut; now we have to understand how."
In case one of the top teams might see that it hasn't been set up the best possible way, what are the chances to recover during the season?
"This is one of the most important points of the upcoming season. When we're heading for Australia we can't modify much. On Friday we can test what we want to use over the weekend. There will be more test stands and we might have to risk much more. If our car will be competitive right from the beginning, it will be a decisive element in understanding where we are."
As far as the new engine regulations are concerned Domenicali said that the agreement determines that every driver can use up to eight engines over the season when and where it is suitable. In case a ninth engine has to be used an appropriate penalty has still to be found.
The last questions were about Kimi Raikkonen's new race engineer, delivering engines to Honda and Michael Schumacher's contribution: "To use Andrea Stella as Raikkonen's race engineer has been decided last year. I want to underline that Dyer will have an important role in the coordination of the race engineers. As far as delivering engines to Honda is concerned this possibility is almost 0 at the moment. Michael is the only one with experience with slick tyres and, together with Luca Badoer, he will give an important contribution."
At the end of the month Kimi will participate in a rally: "Traditionally we always have a very open relationship with our drivers; we were criticised when Michael Schumacher played football on the race weekends. Letting Kimi drive a two-day rally is the same approach. We consider it two days of tests for him, although it's not Formula 1."