Wednesday April 18th, 2001
Following the defeat at the their home Grand Prix at Imola last weekend, according to Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, the Ferrari team are 'not resting' in order to return to the top.
Current world champions, Ferrari had scored six consecutive race wins - four last season - but saw their winning streak stopped at the Brazilian Grand Prix this year.
However, the Italian team endured the most disappointing weekend of the season at the San Marino Grand Prix, where, after Barrichello qualified sixth, two places behind team mate Michael Schumacher, the Brazilian driver could only finish a distant third behind Ralf Schumacher's Williams and David Coulthard's McLaren while Schumacher retired with mechanical problems.
But Barrichello reckons Ferrari are working very hard to return to winning ways at the Spanish Grand Prix next week, and to make up for the lost ground to their BMW-powered rivals at Williams.
"We have an exceptional development schedule on the engine side," Barrichello said. "Our people work seven days a week and are constantly coming up with innovations. We have a few things which will come into the programme very soon and I can assure you that Ferrari is not resting.
"Their (BMW) engine is definitely one of their major strengths. I think that on the chassis side, we might be better and we have a more balanced car. But their engine allows them to have better top speed on the straights. Of course they had a very good tyre in Imola."
Ralf Schumacher gave French tyre manufacturer Michelin their first Grand Prix win in almost seventeen years, only four races after their return to the sport. Barrichello believes both Michelin and Japanese manufacturer Bridgestone are on the same level of performance, and the Brazilian is happy with Ferrari's tyres.
"Yes, I am (happy with Bridgestone)," Barrichello added. "In fact, today (Tuesday) we have had long talks with them here in Fiorano. Bridgestone is working at a very fast pace and at the moment I think there is no clear advantage for either tyre company.
"For sure, it is in Bridgestone's best interests to keep up with Michelin and they do have the resources to do the job and I am fully confident in their work."
Ferrari were the only team to choose the harder tyre compound at Imola, and they struggled during both qualifying and the race, and Barrichello admits it was the wrong decision, though he also blames their Fiorano track layout for not allowing them to simulate the Imola conditions.
"I can tell you that the week prior to the race, Michael had tried these tyres at Fiorano and the test was a positive one," explained Barrichello. "However, our private test track (Fiorano), because of its layout, did not allow us to simulate all the situations which we then encountered in Imola.
"The decision to use the harder tyre was also influenced by the weather forecast for Sunday. It did not go well. In particular, we suffered in qualifying, even if our final grid positions did not reflect the true situation. Michael made a mistake on what would have been his best lap and I had a lot of bother with traffic."
Ferrari, however, still lead the constructors' championship with a ten-point advantage over McLaren and 28 over Williams.