Ferrari failed to beat Red Bull for a fourth consecutive time because of “two main factors”, according to team boss Stefano Domenicali.
Speaking to the Spanish sports newspaper AS, the Italian denied he is the main problem.
“You wouldn’t change Domenicali and win tomorrow,” he insisted.
“Sure, my boss could do it, and if he does, I would always be grateful to Ferrari,” said Domenicali.
“But in Italy there is a saying: ‘When you leave the road you know, the other could be worse’.
“The problem is not Domenicali,” he added. “Domenicali is the first to come to work in the morning and the last to leave.
“If we had won in 2012, Domenicali would be a phenomenon, he would have done his job well,” he said.
Indeed, together with Fernando Alonso – whose patience may now be running out – Ferrari has come tantalisingly close to winning under the Domenicali reign.
Domenicali thinks the main problems in 2013 were technical ones.
“The first is that at the beginning of the season we had a car that was competitive in qualifying and very good in race pace.
“The problem is that we could not improve the car steadily, because unfortunately in some cases we brought developments that, instead of improving, actually worsened the car,” he said.
Domenicali said Ferrari has been working hard to right that wrong, including by completely overhauling the Maranello wind tunnel, and installing technical bosses – James Allison and Pat Fry – who are renowned for success in F1’s aerodynamically-focused era.
He explained that the second fundamental problem in 2013 has been Pirelli.
“I do not mention why or whether it was right or not, but in changing the tyre type we have not been able to exploit the best feature we had — our competitive race pace,” said Domenicali.
He also said that, despite coming so close in some years, not winning in the end had now increased the pressure on Ferrari to fever-pitch.
That has now resulted in the Alonso exit rumours, and “general criticism” that Domenicali thinks makes little sense.
“Like when it comes to the drivers,” he said, “many times I’ve read in the past ‘Ferrari has to change Felipe (Massa)’.
“But now I read ‘Felipe has to stay!’ Which is it? A little rationality, please,” Domenicali insisted.
“I’m the first to defend Felipe and I always will, because he is a special lad, someone dedicated to the team, but you have to make a professional assessment,” he added.
© RIF | GMM