Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali fears this year’s Formula One world title fight will soon be over if Sebastian Vettel’s charge is not halted.
The reigning world champion has won four of five races this season, and was second in the other, leading to a haul of 118 points from a maximum of 125, and opening up a 41-point cushion in the standings.
It leaves Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa a staggering 67 and 94 points adrift respectively ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, and with the season a quarter of the way through.
“If Red Bull keep progressing like they have, then no doubt it [the championship] will not be easy,” said Domenicali. “They are very far ahead, so we need to make sure we do the maximum to recover. “The nature of the people in Maranello has to be that they need to push and to work hard because we want to keep it alive as long as possible, so we still believe.” One of Ferrari’s key areas of concern are the hard tyres, notably the super-hard compound used for the first time in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, which failed to work in harmony with the car. Alonso, in particular, went from being race leader after 18 laps to finishing a lap down come the conclusion as he was forced to finish the race with two sets of hard tyres.
“At least you cannot say Pirelli are working for Ferrari,” joked Domenicali.
“I know there were a lot of doubts at the beginning of the season with people saying that because Pirelli is an Italian company they will make sure the tyres are perfect for the team. “That aside, we need to see what the future brings and work closely with them to see if it is the right tyre we should have. “If you look at the situation, Fernando led for 18 laps and in 46 laps we were lapped, so we lost around two seconds per lap, which is really difficult to explain. “Unfortunately the tyres were unable to work on our cars which were sliding around because we could not get any temperature into them.
“Sunday was the worst race we have had since the beginning of the season in terms of race pace because before that we were quick, so it’s a shame.” Domenicali believes the next two grands prix, in Monaco on Sunday and Montreal two weeks later, will prove to be the acid test for Ferrari’s challenge. At both races Pirelli are introducing their new super-soft tyre, with Domenicali adding: “The tyre effect has a big influence. “So we need to be very cautious and see where we are in the next couple of grands prix because we will have much softer tyres and a different configuration of the track.
“Then we will see where we are in terms of fighting for the title. We know it is difficult, but we don’t give up.”
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