San Paolo - Four races and still no points, although at least Kimi got some at Sakhir, so that the Scuderia has finally got off the mark. In all the past years when things were going very well for us, we have always said that, in F1, things can change very quickly and with a quarter of the 2009 almost completed, we have had the proof of that with new names at the top of the order.
In Bahrain we had an exceptionally good chance to score some serious points, but my race was compromised right from the start when I had a collision. The fact the collision was with my team-mate Kimi is just one of those things that can happen in racing, especially at the start when everyone is so close. I was in the middle of a sandwich and lost my front wing and the long pit stop meant my race was pretty much over. So it’s no big deal that it happened with him, but it did ruin my whole afternoon after that, although other problems like the telemetry not working didn’t help either.
We did make a step forward in Bahrain in terms of performance and that is partly down to running the KERS again, which was definitely an advantage at the Sakhir track. The performance itself was quite reasonable and I was able to run at a strong pace when I had a clear track ahead of me, so I think we can claim to have made a step forward, even though there is still a need to improve the car and, of course, this is what everyone at Maranello is working on right now.
What you can be sure of is that all the teams will be working hard and most should improve by the time we get to Barcelona, so that whatever Ferrari can do will have to be measured against that. We have a big package coming for Spain and it’s not just a case of working on producing a new double diffuser, even though this is the element that has caught everyone’s imagination. The numbers show this should have a big effect on lap time and I am pretty confident this should allow the Scuderia to make a big step forward.
The fact the next race is in Barcelona has several advantages, even if they apply to all the teams equally: it is a track that has been used so much for testing that everyone knows what to expect and how to analyse the data we will get there on Friday, taking into account outside factors like ambient temperature and the wind speed and direction. In addition, the character of the track calls for a very efficient car and therefore it can provide us with an accurate picture of just how the F60 is performing with the new parts we will have on it for the race weekend. Hopefully, we will use this to our advantage to improve our qualifying performance to give us a better chance in the race.
It seems strange now to be back home in Brazil after the race in Bahrain, as in past years, the ten days before the first European race used to see some of the most intensive testing activity of the year, but now of course, all that is banned. To be honest, even if it seems strange not to be driving somewhere in Europe right now, I have been making up for it by keeping in touch with the factory more closely than usual. We have all had to find different ways to do our job and try and improve our car, without actually running on track. In this situation, using a simulator becomes very important and currently Ferrari is working on the development of a new one, which should prove even more useful than the one we have at present. On the plus side, I’ve been able to come back home to Brazil for one week and on Sunday, I head back to Europe and from then on I will stay there for most of the European summer.
Four races in five weekends has made for a very intense start to the season and my aim now is firstly to score my first points of the year and then to look to go for my first win of the season. Until we start winning races again, it’s difficult to start thinking in terms of the championship. We need to work day and night to return to having a very competitive car. Only then we can start thinking about the championship titles – maybe it will be too late, maybe not, but we’re not giving up.
Although it’s been a tough time for us at the Scuderia, I am still enjoying my driving at the moment. We have all these new elements, the slick tyres, the KERS, the adjustable front wing and making the most of them on track has been very interesting. A bit more downforce would make it even more fun! But I’ve got my job to do and even if I only had three wheels on my car I would still be doing my best and improve the situation. But for now, more downforce is what I want.
When we get to Spain, without the benefit of being able to test, Friday morning will be very interesting. Although it is too early to establish our programme for the first day of practice in Barcelona, we might try the new package on one car only in the first session in the morning, in order to run a comparison test with the old one, before both running it in the second session. But nearer the time, we will have a better idea if there’s a need to do a back to back. With all the new aero packages and other interesting developments throughout the field, it should be a very interesting Friday for everyone.