Fernando Alonso insists it will again be damage limitation for the Prancing Horses in Bahrain this weekend. Since the end of the pre-season tests, Ferrari have been very downbeat about the car and their chances.
Even then, with Fernando Alonso only 8 points behind championship-leader Lewis Hamilton, it can be said that the damage control by Ferrari uptil now, atleast in the drivers’ championship, has been quite appreciable. But there is nothing to be very satisfied about it as the F2012 is still a second off the pace in qualifying conditions which is restricting Fernando and Felipe during the races. Everybody at Maranello knows that if there isn’t a significant rise in performance very soon, Fernando will slide down the order and the top 3 in the championship will be a distant memory.
Formula 1 returns to Bahrain after a one-year gap, albeit among huge amount of controversy. Some might be of the opinion that had the race in Bahrain been cancelled this year too, the Scuderia would get an extra week to work on the car and the gap in the championship standings wouldn’t have enlarged.
But as the Bahrain GP is certain to be run this Sunday, it will be very surprising indeed if Fernando is able to hold onto that 3rd position or is able to prevent the gap to the leader from increasing.
The characteristics of the Sakhir circuit don’t suit the F2012. Fernando has even gone to the extent saying that this Sunday’s race might be their worst of the season. One cannot disagree with Fernando as the slow corners and the long straights in Bahrain are going to bring out the F2012’s weaknesses in top speed and traction. Also, the team will not be able to introduce any updates onto the car because of the back-to-back races.
“I am well aware that in Sakhir, we can expect another difficult weekend, which is only natural, partly because of the track characteristics and also because the car is the same one we had in Shanghai,” Fernando wrote in his column on the Ferrari website.
Ferrari and their two drivers have an excellent record in Bahrain though– Fernando being a triple winner here in 2005, 2006 and 2010; Felipe winning twice in 2007 and 2008 ; and Ferrari having won 4 times in 2004 with Michael Schumacher, 2007 and 2008 with Felipe Massa and in 2010 with Fernando Alonso in his inaugural race with the team. But history doesn’t distract either the team or its drivers from the main task at hand currently, of improving the car. Fernando added in this respect – “Both the Scuderia and I have a good record in Bahrain: the team has four victories here and I’ve got three, the last of which was also my debut race for the Prancing Horse. But the past counts for nothing in this sport and this weekend will be all about damage limitation for us”.
Even in all this pessimism surrounding the famous Italian team, Fernando sees a silver lining. “The championship is very open and there are a lot of teams that can aspire to victory, but clearly we need to make a leap forward to be more competitive if we want to aspire to coming out on top at the end. We have to take the step forward as soon as possible. I have faith in the team and I know everyone at Maranello is giving their all so that we can reach this objective”.
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