Ferrari will introduce new front and rear wings, plus modified brake ducts, at this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix as it begins to get on top of the problems it has suffered in the early part of the campaign.
After a major analysis at Maranello in recent weeks as to why its new car was not producing the downforce that wind tunnel figures suggested it should, Ferrari thinks it is now starting to get an understanding of what has happened this year. Ferrari's chief designer Nikolas Tombazis is not expecting a huge breakthrough with the new parts in Istanbul, but believes the team is back on the right path.
"In Istanbul we'll have new front and rear wings and modifications in the brakes," he said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera. "But our car has a lot to recover: we've had wind tunnel problems and other problems in our methodology. We are improving on both fronts, but there is still some way to go. I think we'll be closer in Turkey, but I doubt we'll be where we need to be."
"The program is to bring improvements at every race. We are well aware these improvements will have to be courageous to close the gap."
Tombazis believes that two factors have played a part in Ferrari's fortunes this year – the wind tunnel calibration issues and the fact that the team was not aggressive enough with its design.
Speaking about the wind tunnel, he said: "That's just one half of the problem: even if we didn't have problems with the tunnel, we wouldn't have won the first three races. Having said that, the aerodynamics of a modern F1 car is made up of a series of air flows that interact with the car.
"Compared to the past they are a lot more delicate, brought to the limit, and it's easy to find inconsistencies in the translation to the track. From the tests to the first race, the package didn't work the way we wanted. From then on the investigation on why the tunnel fooled us started. It's partly still going on, but we have understood a good part of it."
When asked if the move from a 50-percent-sized wind tunnel to 60 percent was a factor, Tombazis said: "That's possible, because in an ideal world you would increase the dimensions of the structure, too, so as to reduce the influence of the walls. But it's not just that. In any case, we now have more confidence in the tunnel results."
On the factor of Ferrari not having been aggressive enough, Tombazis added: "We have realized, even if it's not a pleasure to admit, that over the last years we have become more conservative, less aggressive with development, and we've brought forward less-courageous ideas.
"I think that's justified criticism, unfortunately. Our structure had gradually become more complicated, and many people who need to keep their minds free in order to work on performance were distracted by less important things. After this cold shower we've stepped up a gear to be focused 1,000 percent on the things that matter. We already have some very interesting projects."
Tombazis says that one of those projects includes pushing on with future plans to run a Red Bull Racing-style flexible front wing as soon as it can.
"You need to be humble and understand when a car is better," he said. "In the meantime, in this process of mental renaissance, we are pushing on several innovations."
He added: "The FIA not only sets several rigidity limits, but it can also tighten the rules all of a sudden if it notices that there is flexibility by design. I'm not saying that Red Bull has cheated – we have been too prudent.
"I believe, however, that the FIA could have made these limits more severe. Since it is not doing that, it's up to us to jump on that bandwagon."