Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is not counting on the forthcoming Formula 1 title battle turning into a straight fight with Red Bull, despite both McLaren and Mercedes starting the season with new challenges.
McLaren's prospects have been dealt a blow with the departure of Lewis Hamilton, while Mercedes endured a troubled end to the 2012 campaign. Although the situation of those two teams points to Ferrari and Red Bull having the edge in 2013, Domenicali says he will not allow his outfit to rule out any its rivals.
When asked if he shared the view that 2013 would be solely a Red Bull and Ferrari fight, he said: "Based on paper analysis, it seems to be correct. But, as usual, we have to very, very careful in this field. I prefer a mental approach to considering that our opponents are as many as there were in the past season. Surprises may take place each year. My approach is fearing everyone and not considering anyone outside of the championship."
Ferrari will launch its new car in Maranello on Feb. 1, with Domenicali suggesting that the car will be an evolution of the current design, albeit with a big focus having been applied to the design of the exhausts
"It is clear that with continuity in the regulations, you cannot make any incredible changes from an aesthetic point of view," he said. "We will focus attention on trying to maximise the exhaust effect within the regulations, because that is where you can get some additional performance."
Ferrari is determined not to endure a repeat of the difficulties it faced at the start of last season, when it went in to the campaign with an uncompetitive car. One of the factors in its difficulties was a calibration problem at its Maranello wind tunnel, which has forced it to shut down the facility for a revamp and shift its efforts to the Toyota facility in Cologne.
Domenicali is confident that its on-track form will not suffer, which will be crucial because teams will have to balance work on both the 2013 car and '14 regulations over the forthcoming months.
"We have started the development of the 2013 car in the Toyota wind tunnel and we will work on that tunnel this year with no need for a correlation check," he said. "This will allow us to be more efficient and effective – and not worried by the fact that we are not in Maranello. We have seen another competitor [McLaren] develop the car in the same facility and they have done a pretty good job."