James Allison: “We will need some Luck to Win”

The Scuderia Ferrari team had a good performance at Spa-Francorchamps two weeks ago, with Kimi Raikkonen taking his best finish of the season in fourth with Fernando Alonso seventh, and Technical Director James Allison believes the result in Spa sums up just where Ferrari are in 2014.

Allison is not expecting much change in the order of teams in Monza, despite it being an out-and-out power circuit. He reveals the team have updated the car since the race at Spa-Francorchamps two weeks ago, but despite this, he expects Ferrari to be roughly around the same place in the field in Italy as they were in Belgium.

“To find the realistic target for the F14 T at Monza, one has to look at Spa-Francorchamps, as the characteristics of the two tracks are similar, although in Monza, the engine maybe counts for a bit more and the aerodynamics a bit less, so in Monza we can expect a similar level of competitiveness to Spa,” said Allison. “We have improved a few things since the last race, but the others will have also made progress and so it’s hard to see the hierarchy being any different to what it was at the Belgian Grand Prix.”

Ferrari have not won a race in Formula 1 since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, and Allison is not expecting another one anytime soon, especially with the pace of the Mercedes as it is, insisting the team must remain realistic.

“At every track this season, we have seen a significant gap, usually over a second, to the Mercedes,” asserted Allison. “So I believe they must make a major mistake for us to have a chance of winning. To do so, even with some luck, would be great for all of us, however our aim is to concentrate on improving the car to come to every track with a more competitive car than at the previous race.

“We must try and get the maximum performance out of every weekend and certainly we can say that in the last two or three, we have improved our car, as can be seen from the fact that both drivers have been more competitive compared to the start of the season and I hope that continues. But, we will need some luck to win.”

When analyzing the deficit to Mercedes, Allison believes it is a combination of things that sees Ferrari down on pace compared to their main rivals. He refuses to lay the blame on one department, and while admitting the Ferrari power unit is behind the Mercedes power unit, the aerodynamics are also lacking, and he insists the team will have to improve in all departments to be competitive in 2015.

“We are behind our rivals Mercedes in terms of power, but also when it comes to aerodynamic downforce,” said Allison. “It’s difficult to split the blame in percentage terms, as it’s the car as a whole which is not competitive enough. We need to work on every aspect; it’s not just a question of the engine or just the aerodynamics, but also the suspension and the systems. Every part of the car has to be improved so that it can become more competitive next year.”

With regards to the 2015 season, Allison says decisions have been made with regards to the design of the car, and that they will try and make the power unit more competitive within the limits the FIA have imposed. He insists it is not so much those limits that will affect the car next year, but the lack of time they will be able to implement those changes.

“We have taken most of the key decisions relating to its design and we have chosen the path to follow to find the performance in the coming months,” stated Allison. “At the start of the project we made choices as to which areas we have to work on to end up being competitive. We have decided on the architecture of the car and in the coming months we will work on its performance based on the decisions we have taken.

“You can’t change every part of the engine, but the regulations say the majority of parts that can make a difference in terms of performance on the engine are still free. The 48% is not a binding figure and can be misleading compared to what are the real opportunities to improve the power output of the power unit. The way is completely open when it comes to the rules.

“In fact, our problem is not the rules, it’s the time needed to close such a big gap. Therefore we must make the most of every available minute from now to the final moment before the homologation date, which is 28 February 2015. But as I said at the start, it’s not just the engine that has to improve; the chassis needs to also, as does the suspension and every part of the car. I don’t know if we can close the gap in just one year.

“We are trying, but as [Marco] Mattiacci said, we are also looking at the medium to long-term future, not just the short term. He wants to get this team back to being ahead of all the rest and to have it stay there for many years. Having said that, we are working as hard as possible for next year, [so] to have a much more competitive car. At the same time however, we are establishing the basis to make Ferrari the benchmark team in Formula 1.”