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GP Week : Issue 145
WHEN Ferrari unveiled the F2012 back in February, fans and pundits alike were aghast. The car looked terrible. And when it took to the track in Jerez for winter testing, it was immediately obvious that the Ferrari’s handling was as ugly as its aesthetics. Skittish on corner entry, exit, and at the apex, there wasn’t a part of the car that appeared to be balanced. But winter testing can be a time of sandbagging and grandstanding, and the tifosi held on to the hope that the Scuderia’s 2012 challenger would be the out-of-the-box race winner Stefano Domenicali had waxed lyrical about at the launch. Over the course of the Melbourne Grand Prix weekend, fans and team members alike were disabused of that notion. The F2012 performed so badly on track in practice that it was immediately christened ‘Clifford’ by the press room, in honour of the big red dog of children’s literature fame. “Today we confirmed that we are not competitive,” a downcast Alonso admitted on Saturday evening. “We are not quick enough, we are not competitive to fight for the top places at the moment. “Maybe it is something we knew, we expected after winter testing. We have some ideas. There is still a lot of work to do. We have to be more united than ever – we had to work 24 hours a day before this race, now we have to work 25. It’s the only way to improve the car. “The target was to start the championship with a competitive car able to win races. ... We need to arrive with a winning car at the next couple of grands prix.” But the downbeat attitude of Ferrari on Saturday night was not shared by all. Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, who led the Scuderia to six constructors’ titles during his years in red, thought that the team could still surprise. “[Ferrari] are a very strong team; they’ve got loads of good people, so I’m sure they’ll sort it out whatever the problems are,” Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said of his former employers. And surprise they did on Sunday, which is when it counts. Despite a retirement from Felipe Massa following a collision with Williams driver Bruno Senna, Ferrari saw a P5 finish for Fernando Alonso, who performed brilliantly to recover from a qualifying crash that saw the Spaniard out in Q2. While upgrades for the F2012 will need to wait until the Chinese Grand Prix, Alonso used the Australian race to demonstrate his consummate ability to wrestle strong performances from sub-par machinery, making the most of a good start to work his way up to P6 by the fourth lap of the grand prix. IT’S A DOG’S LIFE Typical Alonso race recovery doesn’t hide the fact – The Prancing Horse is in trouble 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS