Ferrari believes its 2009 season was wrecked by the long-running debate over double diffusers, but says total rules clarity for next year means there is no reason it cannot be back fighting for the title.
The Maranello-based team did not initially adopt the double-diffuser concept used by Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota at the start of the season – and it struggled to integrate it onto its F60 once the FIA ruled it totally legal.
Well aware that it was always going to be on the back foot with its car, Ferrari took the decision mid-campaign to shift all its focus onto its 2010 design – which has now made it bullish about its prospects for next year.
When asked for the reasons why the team feels confident about its chances for next season, team principal Stefano Domenicali said: "The confidence comes from the fact that we don't see any loophole in the regulation that can be considered, I would say, legal. Now things are legal, period. No discussions and we can look ahead always.
"We also did the choice that Ross [Brawn] did with Honda two years ago, to concentrate all the efforts into the new project. I think the reason we did something different to McLaren was because our car was structured so as to not to develop the double diffuser.
"It was blocked, and that is why we said we don't have to do work here, because it will not carry on next year. That is why, looking at the numbers we have in the wind tunnel, I am positive now. With my feet on the ground – but for sure positive."
Although Ferrari missed out on third place in the Constructors' Championship by just one point to rival McLaren, Domenicali has praised the fighting spirit of his team for its effort over what was a hard season.
"We had the spirit and we are used to getting out with the Ferrari spirit and the Ferrari resources, and that is what we have to learn this year," he said. "It was of course a difficult season, but you have to look at the situation this year and what happened. I think for sure on the technical side, the championship was in a way steered with the double diffuser situation at the beginning.
"That, for us, [meant] we had to work on the car without that kind of structure and it was difficult to catch up. We knew it, and this is the reason why – considering what we saw when we did the first step of development, we took the very difficult decision to say in the middle of July, look let's stop work on this car and work for next season.
"It was a very painful decision because we know in this contest, with a lot of emotion, you have to suffer and you have to think that you have done a rational decision. It is painful to pay this year, but let's hope it will be good for next year. If you look at the end of the championship, unfortunately we are fourth – one point behind McLaren, who took the decision, which has to be totally respected, to develop the car up until the end.
"We have, since the accident of Felipe [Massa], only one car scoring points. I think that if you look at the glass, you have to take it as being half full rather than being half empty. I think that is all the things we have to consider, but for sure there are a lot of important lessons to be learned this year for next season."