Ferrari is confident that its season is now heading in the right direction after Fernando Alonso finally delivered its first podium finish of 2011 in Turkey.
With its early campaign ruined by a lack of pace in qualifying, the team has spent the last few weeks getting to the bottom of wind tunnel calibration issues that were hindering progress. With that area of its car design process now having been sorted, the team expects the upgrades planned for the Spanish Grand Prix to deliver exactly what they should do.
Although Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is keeping his feelings in check after seeing Alonso finish third at Istanbul Park, he is hopeful that the signs from Turkey do point toward an upswing in form.
"At least what we have seen this weekend is going in the right direction," said Domenicali. "I am expecting another step in that direction because, if we do that, it means we have understood the situation, and it means we are working in the right direction.
"What I am saying to my people is, don't expect the others to stay asleep. All the other competitors will react and improve, and this year will be a very challenging season – apart from the fact that we have seen that Red Bull has the fastest and most reliable car, but we will see.
"The pressure could also be on their side to keep that level of performance, so we will try to put pressure on them, and when you have pressure you make mistakes."
Although qualifying is not as important this year as it has been in the past, Domenicali believes it is still vital that his car can help Alonso and teammate Felipe Massa to start near the front of the grid so that their races are not compromised by rivals.
"We need to remember that during all the races, the pace was not too bad, everywhere. But, when you start so [far] behind, you cannot really show completely your race pace because you have to do a good start, and try to get out of traffic so you do not destroy the tires. That is the real issue.
"I would say we have confirmed the race pace has improved, because in Turkey we were lapping on the soft [tire] faster than Webber, and the same as Vettel. On the hard [tire], Webber had one new set that he was able to use for maximum behavior. But we were very, very competitive.
"If Fernando was not behind Rosberg [in the first laps] and had he been able to overtake, then I would expect him to be in the tow of the Red Bulls. This is for sure the thing that I can say."
He added: "Overall we have improved, and the gaps in qualifying have reduced. In race pace, we had reduced that too, but it was already good. The outcome is that we need to improve in qualifying and we need to do that starting in Spain."