Domenicali in confident mood
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has echoed the confident sentiments of his drivers ahead of the new season.
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Following the opening test in Jerez earlier this month, Felipe Massa proclaimed this year's car to be "on another planet" compared to the horrific performance of the challenger unveiled 12 months ago.
At the start of the second test in Barcelona last week, double world champion Fernando Alonso repeated Massa's remarks, leaving Domenicali a happy man so far with the opening race in Australia less than three weeks away.
From the data gathered from the first two tests, Domenicali does not believe Ferrari are the quickest, but as long as they are close in Melbourne then he knows it will be a more solid platform on which to build their title challenge this year.
"The situation at the moment seems to be alright - alright with the problems we have," said Domenicali.
"We will soon know the exact situation, although not in Melbourne because that is only the first race.
"But my view, the target, is to be close to the leading car. I will be surprised if we are the leading car because with the stable rules we were not the quickest at the end (of last season).
"But if we are close together, within a couple of tenths (of a second), then with such a long season anything is possible.
"We need to make sure we are close to the best car, and then the team and the driver has to make the difference."
Following a wretched start to last season - aside from a fortuitous win in Malaysia given the weather conditions - it was Alonso's magic that ensured he challenged throughout the campaign, falling short by just three points as Sebastian Vettel won his third successive title.
Asked whether he was at least happier approaching the start of this season than last, a smiling Domenicali, at the MotorSport magazine Hall of Fame Awards in London yesterday, said: "Another world! That's why I'm here."
The Italian added: "It is a totally different situation.
"Everyone is doing a big job, a good job, and as far as we can tell from the tests, I don't see a lot of changes from the fighting we saw at the end of last season."
The concern for Domenicali, as has been expressed by the majority of people up and down the pitlane, are the Pirelli tyres.
Although Pirelli have produced a range of rubber half a second quicker per compound, it also degrades much faster, resulting in at least two pit stops per race.
Fears were expressed last week in Barcelona by many of the drivers that given the rapid rate of degradation, races could see four or five pit stops.
"In my view, the biggest challenge this year - especially at the beginning - will be the tyres," said Domenicali.
"Okay, there were different temperatures (in Barcelona), but the tyres seem to be a good challenge for everyone."