Ferrari has admitted its new car is not delivering what it had been hoped for so far, but it has faith that it can get on top of its issues before the first race of the season.
After three days of extensive evaluation of its new F2012 at Jerez in Spain this week, Ferrari has confessed it is not yet in a position to feel totally comfortable with the progress it is making. While main title rivals McLaren and Red Bull Racing have both openly declared their satisfaction with the early indications from their car, Ferrari is more circumspect about where it is at with its new challenger.
When asked about whether Ferrari was where it wanted to be at this stage of testing, technical director Pat Fry said: "I am not happy with where we are at the moment.
"I think there is a lot of room for us to improve from where we are. Reliability-wise it is good. Performance-wise I think we are OK, but we can play around with the performance and improve [the car in] some corners and some particular parts of the corner, but I would not say I am happy yet until we get the whole thing working."
Fry suggested that the biggest issue Ferrari was facing was in trying to understand how to get its car into the perfect setup, having opted for a radical design this season. Wwith just two more tests after this week's running in Jerez, Fry admitted that there was pressure to get on top of matters quickly.
"Certainly the three tests rather than four does compress things a little bit," he said. "I think we have got a lot of work to do.
"The basic platform is OK. We are looking at the various characteristics, and all the bits we have to test. We can play around with the through corner characteristics, so we can do different things at corner entry, mid-corner to exit, and it is really trying to find the right balance of those things.
"We are working through a reasonably large matrix here, so on each run we are trying almost a different configuration. There is a lot of analysis here and then back at the factory. We are using the simulation and the simulator to make sure everything ties in, so we can put the right package together."
He added: "I think everything is a lot more compressed, so there is a lot of pressure on everyone. You have to try and make decisions quickly. We have a one-week break coming up, but then it is two solid weeks and then you are packing the freight for Melbourne. So there is a lot of work for everyone to do. It is the same for every team up the pit lane."
Fry said that there was no interest from his team in chasing headline-grabbing quick lap times because, having lost a shakedown test to snow last week, it needed to maximize its running over the next few weeks.
"We are not concentrating on taking the fuel out and trying to set a lap time. With only 12 days of testing before the next race, we have to make the most of all the time we have got.
"We were set back a little bit by the foot of snow in Fiorano, certainly the first morning of Felipe [Massa] was spent doing what we would have done there, so we are now trying to play catch-up. Right now, it is about trying to get the right package together."
Fry made it clear, however, that the difficulties the team was having with the car were not related to its decision to run a pull-rod front suspension.
"The front suspension is not that a big a deal to be honest," he said. "It is a small aero benefit, a small center of gravity benefit, and I know it is different from what people have done in the past – but it is not that big a risk, to be honest. With a sensible structure to come you sort it out. We have gone for every last little bit of performance. That was a small benefit and it cost us a small amount of weight, but the weight is low down and in the end it was the right thing to do."
Fry said that Ferrari was flying out new hydraulic parts overnight to ensure there was no repeat of the problem that prevented Alonso running for a part of Thursday.
"The first two days we did not really have any reliability issues as such. Today there was a small hydraulic issue. We will get some new bits this evening which hopefully will see that one put to bed.
"That side of it, I think – the car, reliability-wise, seems quite good as normal. Performance-wise, it is literally trying to get the right bits together so a lot of analysis is needed."
Asked for what his message would be to Ferrari fans, Fry said: "We are all working very hard..."