MONZA: Ferrari boss Stefanco Domenicali was keen to play down any high expectations at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix here following Finn Kimi Raikkonen’s win in last month’s Belgian GP.
Domenicali, who greeted veteran Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, drafted in to the team as replacement for hapless test driver and compatriot Luca Badoer with a warm welcome, said he did not believe the Italian team could repeat that victory in front of their home fans.
And with the weather forecast to be warm and dry throughout the weekend, it could prove to be a good circuit for their main rivals Brawn GP, Red Bull and McLaren Mercedes as the championship boils towards its conclusion with five races remaining.
Raikkonen’s Belgian victory was Ferrari’s first triumph for nearly a year since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.
But Domenicali said: “This is going to be much more difficult and it is going to be a very hard race for us. It is tough because our rivals have kept on working and have developed their cars, but we have not.
“And we have a car, in our F60, that I do not think is well suited to the characteristics of this track here at Monza.
“So we need to be consistent and to work hard and to hope that we can take advantage of anybody else’s problems this weekend.”
Raikkonen hopes he can at least continue his podium run, having finished in the top three at every race since Hungary.
But he is also unsure about how Ferrari will fare at Monza.
“In Belgium we won and we want to go on like this in the last races, trying to stay on the podium,” said the Finn. “It’s one of the most important GPs of the year because we race in front of our fans and it would be great to give them satisfaction.
“The track is the fastest of the season and the KERS should help us just like in Spa. You need to use the kerbs well and this wasn’t the strong point of our cars over the last years.
“We’ll see what will happen as of Friday. We didn’t do the usual test on the track so it’s difficult to say because the cars haven’t used this aerodynamic set up so far. It will be a difficult weekend.
“But I can promise the fans that we will give our best as usual.”
Ferrari has already switched most of its developments to its 2010 car, and Domenicali added that although the Spa win had been a pleasing boost in a difficult year, there was a lot of work to do to avoid a repeat of Ferrari’s poor start to 2009.
The new car “will need more efficient aerodynamics,” he said. “It will be vital to quickly understand the behaviour of the new tyres, and to avoid repeating the mistake of arriving with a slow and fragile car.
“With the cost cuts, it would be difficult to recover.”
While Ferrari plan a calm and consistent approach, championship leader Briton Jenson Button of Brawn GP kept an equally low profile as he looked ahead to Sunday’s race and his ongoing duel with team-mate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.
The 29-year-old Englishman holds a 16-point lead but has struggled since his opening streak of six wins in seven races and he knows this weekend is crucial to his hopes.
“Let’s see how it goes and just hope that the car is capable of delivering its full potential,” he said. — AFP