Ferrari ‘eight tenths of a second off the pace’

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

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Ferrari technical director Pat Fry says the team are around eight tenths of a second off the pace in normal conditions.

Despite Fernando Alonso leading the drivers’ championship, Fry says the team have a lot of progress to make: “I certainly wasn’t expecting to have one driver leading the championship.

“From quite early on in testing, we realised we had quite a few issues we needed to sort out. Everyone at the factory has been working hard at that, as we still have a long way to go.

“I think our dry qualifying performance is still around eight tenths off the best while we want to be the best ourselves.

“Damp, low grip conditions suit our car and flatter some of the issues we have with the F2012 at the moment. You could see that in Melbourne on Friday and again in the race in Malaysia.”

Fry added: “If I was asked to rate the overall performance of the Scuderia so far, I’d mark it differently depending on different sections of the company.

“The team, the mechanics at the track have worked very well: in Melbourne we had the quickest pit stops and in Malaysia the speed of the pit crew and the strategy saw us gain position or time on others every time we pitted.

“However, ranking the actual performance of the package, I’d rate it much lower.

“Another plus is the way the team is responding, dealing with the stresses of trying to play catch-up. The manufacturing department, working on some of the more aggressive requests we’ve made, has responded very well.

“So, it’s been a great team effort, but we haven’t done a good job in getting the car out on track to be quickest from the start.”

Fry said the team have brought forward some updates planned for later races and will have them at this weekend’s race in Shanghai: “New parts are coming through and we are trying to get them to the race track as quickly as possible.

“We will have five updates for China, some are quite visible others less so.

“Then there will be a bigger upgrade package for Spain. It would be nice to have them earlier, but we have already brought forward some parts we were developing for Spain and we should have them in China.”

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “Ferrari ‘eight tenths of a second off the pace’”

  1. That’s huge. They can put on a ridiculous amount of work in F2012 but it’s still very difficult to make that car a championship winner. I hope their car overhaul due in May puts them of the front row.

    1. So far they have been doing a really good job of damage limitation to keep in touch with the front runners.
      But it will be a gigantic task to keep that up for the whole year, and those 8 tenths really is a big ask without any big steps that are missing from the car and can be added with a bit of reworking.

      1. Not to mention that while they’re gaining maybe a couple of tenths so are the others. It’s such a shame that for the last few years, at least ever since I started watching F1 back in 2008, Ferrari have not been able to get a decent car up front. They must be given credit that on quite a few occasions they have improved the car drastically over the season and Alonso having a title shot in 2010 is testament to that. I think Malaysia was a fluke rather than general good performance in wet conditions.

      2. Although the damage limitation is more a result of the weather and two crazy races rather than any particular thing Ferrari have done.

    2. Depends which of their cars they believe is 0.8 behind…

      1. Good one. ^_^

  2. “As long as Fernando has a steering wheel in his hands he’s always there”

    He’s there, at the top of the table after 2 races, but for him to be there after 20 races Ferrari have to push harder than hard. Or it has to rain in every second race, and Alonso has to grab every oportunity he possibly can. Still winning a race and leading the championship now in a car 0.8 seconds off the pace is unrealistic, even if it is the case. Good luck Ferrari. You need it.

    1. So far the weather in China is looking like Ferrari might be lucky again!

      1. well said

    2. Also, that might be not enough, as Michael (the rainmaster) won’t be taken out of the equation every race, nor Jenson (the moist master).

      1. Moist master…that is brilliant, and very apt. Sounds kinda dirty too, or else that’s just my slightly perverted brain! :D

        1. To be frank, moist master is not my creation, I read it somewhere:)

  3. I don’t see Ferrari pulling back that much of a deficit with their overhaul in May. I was very impressed with how McLaren recovered in 2009 when their dog turned into a race winner, but that took over half the season.

    I’ll live in hope…

    1. to be fair, still F2012 is in better situation than 2009 Mclaren(and Ferrari!). so If they do very well, it would come much earlier…

      1. Yeah, Ferrari haven’t resorted to putting extreme wets on the car when the track is bone-dry. Yet.

      2. @eggry is it really? That 09 Ferrari had pace. Just that mistakes and reliability masked it in the early season.

    2. yes, but the performance of the 2009 mclaren could arguably be put down to a single part, the double diffuser. with the ferrari this year, it is much harder to see where any huge gains could be made

      1. @demos12 more like the diffuser, weight distribution and the endplates, but I agree with your point. There’s not a step where clear gains can be made.

      2. There was also KERS in 2009.
        The McLaren KERS unit got smaller/lighter through the year & that helped them sort out some of the balance issues the bigger/heavier unit introduced early in the year.

        Also do not forget that even by the end of the year they were still a few tenths off other teams at tracks where aero was more important, They only really looked like winning at tracks where having KERS was a real advantage.

    3. Some good points, but don’t forget Ferrari were not in the running early on in 2010 and nearly won the WDC.
      Mclaren in winter testing in 2011 were miles behind Red Bull, yet by Melbourne, with EBD managed to be competitive.
      Mclaren and Red Bull are already performing to a good level, whereas Ferrari have made design errors. Once they have been sorted out, the gap will disappear. After that, any gains in time will be similar between the teams.

      1. What are talking about, they had the second best car in 2010 and they where very close to Red Bull at the first races even in qualy pace.

        1. @solo Not forgetting that Alonso won the first race in Bahrain that year.

  4. The F2012 is kinda like a Dachshund. Bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this…

    You can dress a dachshund up in all the pretty little costumes you want. You can trim it’s nails, brush it’s teeth, and teach it a whole bunch of amusing tricks. But it’s still a sausage looking dog underneath. No matter how hard it tries, it’ll never be a greyhound.

    The best solution is to take the F2012 to Maranello, give it one last trip around the circuit, then take it out back and put a bullet thru it’s ECU.

    Then copy the MP4/27, slap a Ferrari badge on it, and send it out to run with all the other greyhounds.

    1. @lurker they’ll need months and to break the rules to do all those things you said.

      1. The problem, as I see it, is that you took me seriously. That’s ok, people make that same mistake all the time.

  5. In the only race last year with restricted EBDs, they were the class of the field. Yet, in this post EBD era, they ditched last year’s car and came up with the F2012. Yes, they know better than I do, but the results are not really there…

    1. I completely agree. The fact that they decided to go ‘revolutionary’ despite having a good car without the EBD is beyond me.

    2. But at silverstone last year, EBDs weren’t banned, they just couldnt be blown while off-throttle.
      This year, the EBD is “banned” entirely, so you cant really compare. But if you’re trying to say that maybe they’ve gone too radical with their design, considering that they had a conventional-but-quick car last year (when on the right set of tires), then I agree with you :-)

  6. I’m not sure what your on about with dascunds but the gap is simply enormous, too enormous, you cant the fault the mechanics and the team but the car is probably than the lotus in dry race conditions. 4 tenths would be very big, this is too much I fear for people like domenicalli his term as boss has been poor, another bad year and it could be arriverderci for him and some of the top brass at the scuderia.


    1. They’re clearly behind Lotus at this stage. I’d put them in the same league as Sauber!

      1. Same League? On dry conditions Perez was able to be 1 sec faster per lap. In Melbourne Maldonado did practically the same with a Williams. I think 0.8 sec is rely too much in Alonso´s talent.

  7. If they would to pit every lap they would be competitive :D.

  8. 8 tenth is not that huge considering F2012 is quite unstable car. if they can improve poor handling and traction, lap time would be improved significantly. of course it’s not so easy and perhaps they could have stability but loose some pure pace.

    Still I think it’s not the worst case. if they don’t have such definite problem but still not fast, it would be much harder to improve. at least F2012 is quite clear in terms of what should be sorted out. the question is how…

    1. @eggry the thing is, their rubbish traction is because of a domino effect of setup compromises they’ve made. They’ve made these compromises thanks to a much more fundamental issue of an apparently somewhat-rubbish diffuser.

    2. Ditching the pullrod suspension, or getting to know the details of how to set it up could be the trick, I think. (thanks to @Johnbeamer ‘s excellent article here

  9. Don’t forget that this 8 tenths is for “dry qualifying performance “, and that is the delta to the McLaren. The Red Bull has a little delta too, but it’s clear that it has more than enough race pace to bring the fight to McLaren (unfortunately :P).

    I’d wager the Ferrari isn’t nearly as far off on race pace, and I’d remind you that last year in Australia most competitors were a second off Vettel’s pole! The season is long, and I refuse to believe Ferrari are dead – especially when Alonso is there to do things he shouldn’t be able to!

    Barcelona will be the real test of the car, not just cause of the demands circuit, but because of where it’ll be in the calender in terms of the getting new parts developed and on the car for the European leg.

    1. Finally a man(or woman) that sees performances as they really are.

  10. I don’t think alonso will be getting a win any time soon…and Red Bull & Mclaren have brought more upgrades, so chances are it could end up being more than 8 tenths..

  11. How much time did FA say he brought to McMerc in ’07?

    1. 6 tenths. He’s 2 short unfortunately.

      1. Do you reckon he was just saying that or does he genuinely bring a few tenths?

        1. The question is: compared to who? Kimi? I dont think so. Montoya? Thats a maybe. Wurtz or Paffet? Probably yes. He could easily say that, he was a new driver at a team with “no drivers”, as Kimi left for Ferrari, and Montoya for NASCAR (not so sure). Mclaren had two test drivers Wurtz, who left for Williams, and Paffet who had been promoted to testing driver. So actually he brought infinite amount of time to the team, because he drove the car. :)

          1. @bag0 that’s entirely not what we’re talking about. it wasn’t through driving. He helped the team get 6 tenths through useful feedback.

          2. If his useful feedback gives Ferrari 6 tenths they wouldn’t have every year then this aerodynamics and engineers must be completely awful at making a car because with out Alonso they would have been on the back of the grid fighting with Caterham.

        2. He might have. We don’t know to be honest.

          1. Sorry, I misunderstood (if there is a word like this:D). But I agree, we can’t know that.

  12. “Simple” Problem Solving plan

    1. How slow is it? (they already know)
    2. Why is it that slow? (I guess they have an idea)
    3. What to do to fix it? (I’m afraid they don’t know)
    4. Fix it!

    1. 5. ——?
      6. PROFIT!

  13. If Alonso’s 8 tenths off then they have a lot of work to do. If it’s Massa who’s 8 tenths off McLaren then Alonso would have had pole… Maybe they’re splitting the difference?

    1. Maybe it’s Luca Badoer who’s 8 tenths off. You never know!

  14. Anyone has a hard time believing a car that is so much off the pace can lead the WC?

    I hope that they can gain some pace during this year and crawl back to the top. But because this clearly won’t happen, they should be putting their efforts into the new car very early on in the season, I guess, so that Alonso and Perez might be championship contenders next year. ;)

  15. Just remember that Alonso’s win was nothing more than a fluke. That car belongs nowhere near the top of the table, and not even someone like ‘nando can “fix” that.

    1. Says the Massa supporter…

      1. It’s still true. By rights, Sergio Perez should have won that race in Malaysia.

        1. How so? The man was cleanly overtaken by Alonso on restart, couldn’t capitalize when the gap was down to 0.5s and made a mistake in pursuit. By your logic, I can say Maldonado deserved that 5th place in Melbourne, and Hamilton should’ve won in Malaysia solely on the basis that he had the fastest car. Fair game they had the opportunity, but execution is where it really matters.

          1. Very well said @Theo!

        2. A ‘fluke’ by definition was what Button pulled off in Canada, or what Vettel did in Monaco last year.

          1. Vettel very much had luck on his side for that race!

        3. @prisoner-monkeys Absolutely. I still maintain that was Perez’s race to lose.

  16. Legend_Gordon
    10th April 2012, 15:16

    bring back flavio briatore! Make him the ultimate decision maker in terms whose working for the F1 ferrari team. he can fire who ever he like and he can hire whoever he wants. If it requires building a new F1 factory to compete with the likes of McLaren or Mercedes so be it. But they need

    1. very interesting but one man cannot make the difference just lokk at Ross Brawn he’s struggling to get a single win with Mercedes
      by the way i read an interview of Flavio himself in Autosprint (3 April page 18) in which he was asked about him joining Ferrari in the future he answered that the problem of Ferrari is that in italy the haven’t an aerodynamic philosophy neither good Universities of aerodynamic unlike the UK where you can find the aero Masters which is very difficult to convince them to work in Maranello & because F1 is so dependent on aerodynamics it’s normal to see Ferrari struggle even they have the best team regarding the mechanics (also according to Flavio)
      it not that easy too to build a new F1 factory

  17. 8 tenths of the second in Alonso’s hands is a big problem for Ferrari because we all know that Fernando is capable of extracting every centimeter of the car if it isn’t the case i think it’s a good news.
    But one question why Pat is always pessimistic ?

    1. I see it as him being realistic, not pessimistic.

      He knows the car is, at this point, a dud. I for one appreciate that Ferrari are allowing their mouthpieces to state the truth in frank terms. Pat could have come out with the usual PR nonsense saying how motivated they are to catch RBR and whatnot, but he didn’t go that route. Massive respect to him in that regard.

      As for the pace of the car, I think it’s funny in a sad sort of way. After years of being massively passive with their car design, Ferrari finally tried to mix things up. They have an eccentric suspension, an aggressive design procedure, and some weird aero choices. They finally decided to go outside their box, and it backfired on them.

      If they want to hold on to a decent WCC position, they need upgrades fast. Sure, Alonso can drive anything to positions it shouldn’t be in, but Felipe needs a good car underneath him to do halfway decently. Unless they fix their issues fast, we’ll have a midfield Ferrari team this year.

  18. They may be 8 tenths off in qualifying but I suspect there race pace is better than that.

    If you look at Melbourne for example, Alonso’s race pace was very strong, Matching the leaders at times through the middle of stints & he got a few fastest laps in that time.

    1. Exactly, 8 tenths are just qualifying from the top. In the race it’s a different ball game.


    The handwriting is on the wall and publishing the fact that your car is such sad shape is like Titantic facing that iceberg. They will only play catch up for the remainder of the year and only a fool would be mislead by the current point standings. Until they build a MP427 this ugliest of alltime Ferrari is doomed, The only chance for them will be wet events where rainfall becomes the equalizer. I love my Ferrari but have had another gut check with this report.

  20. Alonso is leading not because of his own ability – which is unquestionable – but because the other title contenders have been disappointing so far, not being able to take advantage of alternating conditions: a true trademark of a champion.

    Still early days though…

  21. it looks like there is some Ferrari progress is on the way…
    McLaren waiting like “vultures” to know if the Mercedes DRS system is worth the investment and Mercedes playing the long game while they wait to know if their system is definitely allowed this year and Red bull steaming because there nothing they can do. Only two races this year, incredible. Just like Martin W said, this weekend will, probably, show the true title contenders and I cannot wait.

  22. sid_prasher (@)
    10th April 2012, 19:53

    I think Ferrari is so far behind that it is possible to make quick strides. If they understand the issue well then they can very quickly close in .2 or .3 seconds (maybe in China itself). After that it will be a struggle and they will have to hope for continued progress, others taking points off each other and continue taking every opportunity and no mistakes – in short a tough ask.

  23. Only 8 tenths, to be able to affirm that Fry and Ferrari must be either “high” of the victory and lead of the drivers standings or crazy confident they’ll come back in terms of pace. My opinion it’s not 8 tenths its more and they are not going to catch Mclaren, Ferrari dont win many races like Malaysia that kinds of Mclaren territory, Ferrari will probably suffer all year round and Mclaren is going to emerge stronger than ever from Spain onwards.

  24. An article by Mark Hughes in Autosport explained all the problems Ferrari is suffering. MOst of it comes down to the exhaust which is set too far back in the chassis and affecting the coke bottle rear end and the diffuser. Something that Mclaren and Red Bull have got working.
    Because of the problems, they have poor traction, poor straight line speed and are over-working the tyres. Yet the speed in high speed corners is apparantly good.
    So the changes Ferrari are working on, is to move the exhausts, so they actually produce rear downforce, this will improve traction, straightline speed and tyre usage.
    Ferrari will make up more time by getting their car to the others level.
    They are working on improving their performance by fractions of a second. Ferrari has 10th’s of a second to find before they can fine tune things.
    If they cock this up though…. crap!!!
    What a waste of Alonso

  25. Why is Fry so publicly slamming his own work? Just makes him seem incompetent. The fact his former team are on the up does nothing to help his reputation.

    By contrast the majority of other Ferrari personnel are silent. There is no need for Fry to point out the obvious fact that his own creation isnt good enough at every possible opportunity.

    1. Part of me wonders if Montezemelo and the like have thrust him into the media spotlight as the scapegoat.

    2. Maybe he alreay want a new job and thought that will make the Ferrari guys fire him, lol.

  26. there doing a Mclaren, Ferrari And Alonso will be there at the end fighting for the championship. Alonso/Hamilton will battle it out.

  27. If Ferrari are only 8 tenths off the ultimate pace, they have a very good chance of winning the WDC with Alonso. Malaysia ‘win’ was not on cards and this has given them a lot of leeway in terms of aggressive strategy and the fact that they have improved others areas of the field like pitstop times, race strategy evens up the playing field a little bit.

    Once they get the exhaust working, I think Ferrari will be the team to beat. And if it rains in China, I would bet on Alonso to get a favorable result since rain seems to negate Ferrari’s issues with the car. If Alonso is anywhere near top 5 before the start of the European leg, he has a very good chance of winning the WDC this season provided Ferrari sort out their exhaust issues.

  28. By the way Alonso has been driving you’d think that Ferrari had one of the best cars on the grid. Shows what an incredible driver he is. But Ferrari say that it will be a while before they can get back at the top. I wonder how long it will take them to regain pace.

  29. They are lucky to have alonso.

    Does this mean that Massa’ performance is not that bad?

    I am surprised they let this out. Why did they do this?

    1. @bearforce1 I’m sure all their major competitors knew the gap already. Plus, no time has support like Ferrari. They owe it to the fans and sponsors to be honest and sort it out.

  30. .8s is a lot. They won’t be competing with McLaren and RBR much on merit but I imagine that Alonso at least will be in a position to capitalise on the points when the guys at the very top are fighting come later in the season.

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