Mar 7, 2013, 8:01 AM EDT
Ferrari opened 2012 merely seeking points with a car that was seriously inferior to their rivals. Team boss Stefano Domenicali at least took home fifth-place points for Fernando Alonso’s efforts last year in Australia.
This year, he thinks Ferrari is capable of a podium.
“Unless someone else has done an exceptional job, I’m convinced that Ferrari will be in the battle to the end,” he said. “A podium in Australia would be a good base on which to build the kind of successes we need.”
If not an outright pace-setter, the 2013 Ferrari F138 has been quicker in testing and is undoubtedly ahead of where it was a year ago. Domenicali seems bullish given the stability in the regulations from 2012 to 2013, and with the aerodynamic improvements made to the car this year.
“What are the factors that have convinced me that Ferrari has made a step forward?” he said. “The new business structure, the working methods, the modifications to the equipment that we have used to work on this car, the consistency of the results compared with our targets and what we saw in the recent tests – these all seem to tell us that we are on the right path at last compared to the past.”
Alonso’s battling a podium drought in Australia. He hasn’t finished in the top three there since the 2007 race, when he finished second in his debut race for McLaren ahead of then-series debutante Lewis Hamilton.
He won his first start for Ferrari at Bahrain in 2010, but has not yet finished better than fourth for Ferrari in Melbourne in three starts.
Felipe Massa, who no doubt needs to improve his form at the start of the year, has also struggled at Australia. He joined the team in 2006 and has one podium (third in 2010) and four retirements in seven Australian Grand Prix starts with Ferrari.