Ferrari remain cautious for 2008 By Jonathan Noble and Pablo Elizalde Wednesday, January 9th 2008, 12:38 GMT Ferrari's new team boss Stefano Domenicali is expecting a difficult season as he reckons all rivals will have taken significant step forwards. The Italian squad took both titles last year after a season-long battle with McLaren, who scored more points but were disqualified from the constructors' championship due to the spying row. Domenicali, whose team were the first to unveil their new car for the 2008 season last Sunday, believes the competition will be even stronger this year. He also expects Renault, who struggled in 2007 after winning the title two years in a row, to bounce back in the upcoming season. "We have to be very cautious because we had some major changes to the rules," Domenicali told reporters during Ferrari's ski press meeting in Italy. "We must think that all of our opponents have taken a step forward. McLaren remains one of the strongest opponents. "We have to respect everyone. We have to respect Renault, because last year I think they focused more than anyone on the development of the car for this year and obviously they now have (Fernando) Alonso in the team so I expect a significant step forward from Renault. "We respect everyone, so there's major caution from our part because all teams are going to grow. "It will be a difficult season. But we can aim for the same result as last year. We are working with humility and we also respect our opponents. Our car is competitive however, just like our drivers." Domenicali also echoed Jean Todt's remarks that rivals McLaren will have an early advantage when the season begins thanks to having built the new electronics system which all teams must use. "Jean Todt has already cleared this position from our point of view," he added. "This should not become an excuse for us, it will mean we have to work more intensely, more precisely because this is a fact. Full stop. "It is there, it is in the car so this new parameter must be used as best as possible. If they eventually should have an advantage, because they know the basic structure, this should not become an excuse. We must work, work and work. Full stop." Ferrari ready to wait on Raikkonen future By Jonathan Noble Wednesday, January 9th 2008, 12:58 GMT Ferrari are happy to wait before they begin new contract talks with Kimi Raikkonen, as they instead prefer the Finn to concentrate for now on landing his second world title in 2008. Raikkonen has a deal with Ferrari until the end of 2009 and, although the team admit to thinking about extending the contract beyond then, they have made it clear they are in no rush to begin talks. Team principal Stefano Domenicali said at the Wrooom media event in Italy on Wednesday: "We have a contract for 2008 and 2009, and we are fully happy with how Kimi is driving and especially how he entered into the team. "Nothing prevents us from also looking into the future and seeing Kimi as a driver who will go beyond his first formal contract, but we will tackle this at the right time. For now, Kimi must be focused on this year." Although Ferrari found themselves at the centre of speculation linking them with Fernando Alonso last year, Domenicali has said that for now the team are not looking beyond current drivers Raikkonen and Felipe Massa for the future. "Alonso and Ferrari?" he said. "Many speculations were made on the issue, but we have two good drivers and they are our official drivers. "We have maximum trust in them and we are convinced they are the right drivers for our team. They have a way of relating between each other and with the team which is very professional and they are very fast. "This (Alonso) is an issue which, for the time being, we are not going to consider. We will see what happens in the future." Domenicali also confirmed that Raikkonen's status as world champion would not mean he would start the season as the team's number one driver. "We have our drivers who start (the new season) on an equal basis," he said. "They are going to play it out with their own chances of victory, and there are no changes from this point of view. They are both on an equal basis." Domenicali hopes F1 leaves spy row behind By Jonathan Noble Wednesday, January 9th 2008, 12:25 GMT Ferrari's new team principal Stefano Domenicali has said he hopes Formula One can move on from the spy controversy this season. With the FIA having stated last month that it viewed the matter finished now that McLaren had apologised and offered a design moratorium on 2008 parts that could have been influenced by Ferrari ideas, Domenicali has also suggested that he wants to waste little time raking over the events of 2007. Speaking at the annual Wrooom event in Italy on Wednesday, Domenicali said that he hoped there was little reason for the matter to be discussed again - although emphasised much would depend on McLaren's approach to the situation. "The wounds are difficult to heal because of the context in which they came out," he said. "However, it is my responsibility from an operational point of view to look into the future. "When you burn your fingers, you do not get close to the fire again until you learn how to manage the wind and other variables. So we will see what their (McLaren's) approach is going to be. "My goal is that I am looking to the future for the good of F1 because I think what came out last season was not good for the credibility of F1. What was positive was that the world reacted in a certain way, and the FIA reacted in the right way. But clearly these were things that hurt F1. "From a legal point of view the procedures (civil and criminal actions) are going on. They do not depend on our will but on the judiciary authorities who are following the case." Although Ferrari, like many teams, have tightened up their internal security measures to limit the chances of another employee supplying information to a rival team, Domenicali conceded it would be almost impossible to eradicate the possibility completely. "Other teams and Ferrari have done a lot in terms of industrial security to protect one's own know how and procedures. But you are speaking about persons who had certain responsibilities within the organisations, and there are no procedures that will work against a betrayal of values. "If people at a certain level do not respect the principles of sporting loyalties then there are no procedures that will work." Q & A with Kimi Raikkonen Thursday, January 10th 2008, 12:41 GMT Q. We're in Madonna di Campiglio which might remind you of your home country. When you're in the snow, do you enjoy the sensation of speed just as much as you enjoy the sensation of speed in a racing car? KR: For sure it's completely different to racing but it's good fun. I enjoy it, I will do more snowboarding than I did last year when I was skiing for fun. It's good days. Q. Coming back here for the second year, perhaps you might have thought back to last year. Did you honestly ever think last year that you would have come back here as a world champion? KR: For sure we were hoping for it but you never know. We try to do all our work as well as we can and hopefully to achieve what everybody wants, every year, to win the championship. We won two championships last year so I'm very happy for that and it's much nicer to come back here now, one year later, than it was a year ago when I didn't know the people, I didn't know the team, but now it's much easier for me also. Q. You had the first shakedown with the new car earlier this week in Fiorano and you're testing the car probably more extensively next week in Jerez. Do have an idea what the testing schedule will be like? KR: I think it's going to be a normal test for us. The car ran very well in Fiorano and of course the conditions were not ideal. It's hard to say exactly how you feel about the car, but for me the feeling was very good so that's the only way I can tell. I think we are going to see next week in Jerez when we take the car on a normal circuit and then we see. Hopefully the weather will be good. We will have two cars so we hope to have good running and a lot of laps so then we will see. Q. Kimi, Casey Stoner was very complimentary about you and also about your achievements on track. He said that watched your season this year. Do you watch MotoGP also and what do you think about Casey as a person and his achievements as well? KR: Yeah, for sure I enjoy watching the MotoGP because there are a lot of things happening and the racing is usually very exciting, plus being in kind of the same team, so I watch most of the races, but not all of course. But he's a nice guy, we've met in some events which we've done together. He's achieved a lot this year and I think he's going to be there for many many years, winning the championships. He's a nice guy. Compliments back to him. It's nice to hear he says good things. Q. How long do you want to work together with Ferrari? KR: Yeah, I have a contract for two more years and then I always said before that I'm not in a hurry to make any new contracts. For sure, if I want, I could make a new contract tomorrow but I will see what it feels like and before I finish my contract I will make a new plan and then we will see what happens. So far I enjoy Formula One, I'm very happy with the team, I like to work with the people but we will see what happens in the future. Q. Kimi, you know Ron Dennis quite well. He told us a while ago that he was a very honest man. It turns out that he wasn't as honest as he told us. Were yo u surprised by that? KR: I don't really want to get involved in things about other people because it's nothing to do with me. It's better not to say anything because otherwise people start thinking differently about us. I think he's a nice guy, seriously. There are many different ways to look at the whole situation. Everybody has their own ideas. Q. Kimi, would you like Michael Schumacher more involved in testing? KR: I think that how the testing is now it's very difficult for the test drivers to have many laps, many days, because we don't have such a lot of testing. We drivers do most of the testing just purely because we test what we get. If we are not able to test, it's good that he's doing it and for sure it's not going to hurt us. He has good experience of Formula One, he knows what he' s doing. For me it's good that he does the tests if we cannot do it. Q. In the Ducati team, everybody is in no doubt who is the number one on the team. Casey is the new world champion, but at Ferrari it seems there are some doubts about this position. Do you think you are the world champion and you have to be number one in the team? KR: I think that it's been the same for me. We start the season at the same level, everybody, and we do the best that we can. We try to win races. There's a point in the season when the other guy's in a better position, you need to make sure that he can get all the efforts from the team and all the chances so I don't really worry about whether I'm number one or number two. I always do my best. That's the main thing. Q. Kimi, has winning the world championship changed you at all, and if so, how do you approach the coming season? Is it any different to previous years? KR: I think I haven't changed myself too much. Sure, I have achieved what I wanted in my life, so it's a nice thing, but I wouldn't say that it has changed me as a person. Coming to this new season, it's hopefully going to be more easy-going - the first part of the season - than it was last year. It's a new season but it's with the same team, so it's going to be kind of much easier for me and much easier for the team, so I wish we can have a slightly stronger start of the year and then we will go from there. Q. Kimi, we have two new venues this season, both of them are street circuits. What are your feelings about street circuits? KR: Actually, I like them a lot. I enjoy Monaco. It's maybe not the nicest thing for the spectators and maybe on TV it doesn't look the most exciting, but as a person, when you want to go fast, it's good fun there. It will be interesting to see how they do. We are going to have two new street circuits and ho w they are going to come, how they are going to look and what they are like to drive. I enjoy it for sure. Q. What do you think you can improve for next season over last year? KR: I think we want to improve everywhere. We know where we have the most difficult time in certain areas in races and on certain circuits, but also I improve my driving every time I go in the car so as a team we are pushing forward and hopefully we can improve in those areas where want. Q & A with Felipe Massa Thursday, January 10th 2008, 12:26 GMT Q. Fantastic year last year, how would you describe last year? Felipe Massa: Well the year was very good, it ended with a very nice celebration for the championship and my wedding, a really special day for me, so I was really happy. Q. Felipe, as a top driver at the peak of his career, how can you still improve, year after year, race after race? FM: Well, a driver always learns, especially as in Formula One the regulations change by year, maybe tyres change, and the electronics change, so there is always something to learn, so every year there is something new, so this means that we start again from scratch every year. This is because of the regulations. We also will have to focus on what we did wrong the previous years and what we did right, and draw experience from that for the new season, improving on what one didn't do right the previous years. Q. What do you feel about the arrival of Stefano Domenicali and his new role? FM: I've known Stefano for a long time already, I've known him since the first day I went to Ferrari. Jean Todt is still there and will be part of the team this year. Stefano will operate to different rules, just as Jean has done until now. But Stefano has great potential. In the past, Ferrari has changed people but the mentality has always been there, it's the same mentality as a group. Q. Felipe, what worries you most in this car, traction control, the starts? What? Is there something in the car that you fear most? FM: Well, surely the starts are going to more human, let's say, because you don't have the electronic control so you have to do the electronic control for the car at the start, so surely, at the start, the driver is going to count more. Up to last year, the technicians did the starts for us, in a way, now, all of us are going to have the cars on an equal basis, it is going to more fun for us. Traction control, let's say we have to take over what the electronics did in the past. That doesn't mean that it's going to be something from another planet, no, we simply have to learn and be a softer on the pedal and I see that the laptimes are more or less the same as against lap times with tract ion control at the end of the season. So it hasn't been that difficult to come to grips with the new regulations. These regulations are going to lead to so me changes in how we are going to have to tackle the car, for a start, for traction control, but also how we are going to have to drive the car during the race, because if you one is too aggressive, you may destroy the tyres more quickly so I think that during the races. We are going to be a bit more careful so without traction, we are going to have to drive a bit differently so as not to wear out the tyres. Of course we have to learn this, we have to learn to optimise this. Q. You are going to drive the car in Jerez next week, what do you expect from the car in terms of performance in comparison to last year? And also, you mentioned Monza, but how can one avoid problems that happened; it seems that some components were not tested enough at the time. Is it possible to plan things better so as to improve on reliability? FM: Well, the problem in Monza was solved right after the race. Now, OK, we have the new car and we're going to have see its reliability. Last year we lost many points due to problems with reliability which ended many races, so this year, this season, we're working a lot on the car to understand see if problems exist so that we can start the championship with a car that we hope is going to be 100 percent reliable. As for extracting performance, OK, the car is new, there are many new things in it. Personally I think the car is going to be ready just before the start of the championship, so we have to develop the car, even if in Jerez should the laptimes not be that far from the laptimes of the last season. The numbers we have seen, the data in the wind tunnel are positive but of course we have to see what the others are going to do because even if our data is incredible, if others go faster than perhaps they have improved more than us, they have worked more on their new car, so we are going to have too see this on the race track and we are going to have some conclusive data with the first race of the championship. Q. Are you tackling this season under greater pressure, from a personal and psychological point of view, and secondly, seeing it from the inside, why is Hamilton special? FM: I don't feel any pressure. It's going to be more or less the same, but we were under pressure to win because we had not been winning for two years and we won. We continue to have the pressure to be in front because we won last year, so the pressure is going to be the same. When you race for a team such as Ferrari, you are always under pressure but one thing is to do your job and even if what people say, it's what counts when you drive. What counts is the mentality of the team. As for Hamilton, considering it was his debut in Formula One, his first year in Formula One and he went really fast, also in comparison to his teammatem who was an important reference, he did a consistent season. He won races but apart from that he was consistent throughout the season. For a newcomer, this impressed everyone. Having said that, considering based on what he has learned, I don't know what happened in the last two races. He should have scored maximum points and he wasn't able to do so. I think that perhaps it was not good to do such an incredible season and to finish it as he finished it. Having said that, we have to have respect for Hamilton, we have to look on him well, both for this next season as well as for the future.