Just days away from the start of the 2012 F1 season, Ferrari is in trouble. Or are they?
Just a week before the first practice session of the new F1 season, the situation at Ferrari has become blurry. After what is considered to be a disappointing test season, the team started an emergency action to improve the F2012 race car. However, they have issued their drivers a gag order, prohibiting them from talking to the media. Pat Fry, the team's technical director, has predicted that the team is unlikely to gain a podium finish at the opening race of the season, in Melbourne, Australia.
It was followed by a remark from Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, during a visit to the Geneva Motor Show, where he acknowledged the difficulties the team experienced during the winter testing and urged them to solve the problem as soon as possible. Di Montezemolo said that he doesn't like the fact that aerodynamics play such a huge part, which accounts for 90 percent of the race car's performance. Only KERS technology allows R&D in F1 to be applied to production road cars. That lack of fondness for aerodynamics, which has played an important part in F1 for the last 40 years, stems from the F2012's major deficiency: aerodynamics.
According to Italian sources, the car's problems emanate from the solution to the new exhaust arrangements. In order to fix that problem, the exhaust outlets will be moved inwards, an alteration that might require the team to have the chassis pass another FIA mandated crash test. "I want to understand what is happening, and how many seconds it will take to be fixed," di Montezemolo was quoted. Those developments amazed Niki Lauda, a three time F1 world champion and currently a TV pundit. "I have never heard comments like this from within a team - this is dramatic," Lauda told German media.
However, in the shadowy world of F1, there are conspiracy theories developing as fast as the cars are moving. There are now claims that Ferrari is bluffing, though Lauda is reluctant to treat those assertions seriously.