Ferrari test driver Marc Gene has said that the mood within the Italian team remains upbeat despite a shaky start to the 2013 F1 season. Star driver Fernando Alonso enjoyed success at the Chinese Grand Prix, but the races at Bahrain and Malaysia have been spoiled because of reliability issues in the car. As a result, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel once again leads the race for the F1 world championship title this season. Despite making a shaky start to the season, Gene is confident that Ferrari’s fortunes can turn in the forthcoming races.
A failure in the DRS system at the Bahrain Grand Prix resulted in Alonso getting just four points in the race; while his major rival – Sebastian Vettel – went on to claim a victory. Gene has said that it is extremely rare for the DRS system to fail. He has pointed out to the fact that the last time the system failed in a similar manner was more than three years ago. As a result of the dropped points at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso is now a massive 30 points behind his rival Sebastian Vettel in the title race. Gene, though, believes that there are still several races left in the campaign to close the gap.
“It’s the first problem of its kind on this system seen in the three years during which it has been used. Despite what happened the other day, the atmosphere at Maranello is calm. It was an unusual problem that has never happened before and won’t happen again. I think this year we will fight until the end for both championships. Red Bull is the benchmark, and Lotus is the other team that is very strong, but we also do not forget about Mercedes,” said Ferrari test driver Gene after the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Spaniard Fernando Alonso has said that he could have easily challenged the win at the Malaysian Grand Prix had it not been for the incident that damaged his front wings. Alonso qualified for the race in the third position just behind Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa. However, he was involved in an incident with Vettel at the start of the race, which damaged his front wing. The Italian team decided not to bring in the Spaniard immediately in the hope that he may require another pit stop for the dry tyres as well.
However, Alonso lost his entire front wing before he could come into the pits. This resulted in him having to retire from the race. After the race, the Spaniard was visibly disappointed, but has said that there are opportunities for him to close the gap on the title challengers from now till the end of the season. He has said that his car was extremely good, and he could have challenged for a win. Alonso had to see Sebastian Vettel take maximum points after a victory in controversial circumstances. The Spaniard also choose not to blame the team, but himself for the decision to stay out on the track despite having damaged his front wing.
“Today we had a good car and I don’t think we were too far from Red Bull pace in the race. They didn’t have all the aces this weekend. No one was especially quick, so I think we could really have fought for the win. We are still missing some pace, but we have three weeks now to work and bring some new parts. Everyone will do it, but hopefully we can taker a bigger step than the others. It was a very, very small touch, but enough to damage the front wing a lot,” said Alonso.
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The Italian F1 team Ferrari have admitted that there are currently experiencing problems with the exhaust in the new car and are working extremely hard with a view of finding a solution before the first Grand Prix of the season. The head of the electronics and engineering department, Luca Marmorini has said that the first two days of testing as part of the pre-season has brought out several problems with the exhaust, which almost burnt out the rear of the car. Alonso’s second day of pre-season testing was brought to a halt after the team saw the exhaust at the end of its life.
Marmorini has said that the exhaust is one of the critical parts in the car, and it needs to last the whole race in order to prevent any other mechanical failure in the car. He has said that if the exhaust fails, it could result in the catastrophic failure of the engine systems or the gear box itself. He has said that a new exhaust for the car is likely to be made available in the final few days of the testing. He has also expressed his confidence that Ferrari will be able to have the car in prime shape for the opening Grand Prix of the season.
“Failing an exhaust, especially on the primary part, can force you to stop the car so it’s as critical as failing a piston or a gearbox. So we have a lot of concern about introducing an exhaust solution without the right amount of tests, but we have to push until the end. Until now we have a process to test on the dyno and in free practice some different exhausts, so we are trying to keep the same. But the more you push on this the more direct the impact can be,” Marmorini said.