I arrived in Istanbul this evening along with the team on the usual charter flight that we use for European races. I was in Maranello from Monday night onwards: we had programmed some work in the simulator to prepare for these first few races of the European part of the season and so it was the perfect opportunity to meet up with the engineers to discuss how development is coming on with the 150° Italia. Already in Turkey, we will have a few new aerodynamic components, but further updates are due to arrive in the following races. We know we have to take a significant step forward in terms of performance if we want to get back to fighting for the top places, especially in qualifying. I’m not expecting a major change in Istanbul: on Friday we will see if the new parts work the way we are expecting, but we are well aware that the others have not been twiddling their thumbs these past few weeks, so it’s impossible to say today where we are compared to our main rivals.
We’ve had a slightly longer break than usual and it was useful to pause for breath after the first run of races outside Europe. I made the most of it to spend time with my family, but also to concentrate on upping my training level, working mainly on the bike.
The Istanbul circuit is very technical, with many different types of corner, some serious ups and downs and a couple of places where overtaking was possible in the past: this year that should be even more the case thanks to the moveable rear wing. This element has proved to play an important part in making overtaking easier, but the factor that has the biggest effect on whether one driver can pass another is the difference in tyre performance, as we clearly saw in China. When you end up in trouble with the tyres, it gets very difficult to defend your position from another driver, even if his tyres are just a few laps fresher than yours. Usually, the Istanbul race is pretty demanding on tyres and so it will be very important to get an understanding of their behaviour in Friday’s free practice. At the moment, the weather forecast looks very uncertain, especially for Friday, which adds a further unknown to this weekend.
I don’t want to make any predictions about the final result: we know it will be tough for us, but the will to work hard and to do well is not lacking. I saw that these past few days in Maranello where everyone is working very hard, from Domenicali to the mechanics, so that everyone can get on top of the situation in their own area as soon as possible. It is this great desire to get the job done that makes the people at Maranello so special.