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Domenicali: We must explain pace loss

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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says the Maranello squad must get to the bottom of why it was less competitive than expected in the Belgian Grand Prix.

After Fernando Alonso topped the Friday practice times in both wet and dry conditions, the Spaniard looked in with a good chance of closing his points deficit to the championship leader.

But Ferrari’s pace faded as the weekend went on, Alonso qualifying 10th and crashing out of the race and Felipe Massa benefiting from the collision between Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel to finish a lonely fourth.

Domenicali admitted the biggest disappointment was the team’s mysterious lack of pace on Saturday and Sunday.

“We must recognise that our performance in this grand prix did not match our expectations and interrupted a positive trend that began a few races ago,” he said.

“We have to understand why immediately and take the necessary counter-measures.

“We need to understand exactly what has happened, in terms of the direction of the set-up that we were taking, or if the developments we brought here, in the conditions that we had, were right or wrong.

“Also because on Friday we were not really able to do the comparisons that we were supposed to do, considering the weather conditions.”

Domenicali said it was important not to resort to panic measures, since McLaren’s Spa form showed how quickly the pendulum could swing this season, and the way different track characteristics could suit one team or another.

“We need to be very cautious, because two races ago McLaren seemed to be suffering a lot,” he noted.

“And now it seemed here that they were very strong.

“Race by race the scenario is changing so quickly that it’s difficult to predict something.

“It’s important to try to be there, because with these conditions, everything can happen.”

The Spa setback left Alonso 41 points behind new championship leader Lewis Hamilton, while Ferrari trails Red Bull by 80 points and McLaren by 79 points in the constructors’ standings.

Nonetheless Domenicali insisted the team is still in the title hunt and must keep pushing – citing the example of Kimi Raikkonen’s late surge three years ago.

“It is more difficult, but it’s not impossible – I remember in 2007 we were 17 points behind with two races to go,” he said.

“So for sure it’s more difficult, but we want to keep pushing.

“Today [among] the top five drivers, [Alonso was] one of the three who did not score a point.

“Maybe in the next couple of races something will happen the other way round.

“So we just need to be there, and not give up.”

Meanwhile Domenicali declined to say much about the World Motor Sport Council hearing into the German GP team orders saga on September 8.

“Our line is not to really speak about it up to the moment we will be in front of the World Council,” he said.

“What I can say is I am sure the World Council will understand our line and our point on that.”ITV-F1

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