Ferrari Looks to Catch Up With Mclaren

By: Mike Bartley

After a good start at the Australian Grand Prix which saw Finn Kimi Raikkonen taking the first victory of the 2007 Formula One season in a very convincing manner, Scuderia Ferrari may have cooled down as McLaren dominates the early stages of the season.

Before going into the North American leg of the Formula One season, Ferrari aimed to reduce the lead posted by McLaren. Unfortunately for the Italian team though, McLaren dominated both races in North America as Lewis Hamilton won both the Canadian and the United States Grands Prix.

But now that the next race will be held in Europe, Ferrari looks to improve their performance to catch up with their archrival. They currently have 71 championship points to their credit while McLaren is in front with 106 points.

At the Canadian Grand Prix, the Ferrari duo of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen performed poorly with Massa being disqualified. After the Brazilian was disqualified, Raikkonen only managed to score a fifth-place finish, good for four points. At the United States Grand Prix, the duo performed better but still far from McLaren's performance. With their F2007 Formula One cars which are faster than road bound Ferraris with performance parts, they took home a three-four finish. This gave Ferrari eleven points. Unfortunately for them, the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso finished one-two to take home 18 points.

"No doubt that we are not happy about the result," says Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari's sporting director. "Third and fourth is not our standard, because we wanted to come here to North America to try to reduce the gap and we did the opposite because we lost 15 points," he added further.

Ferrari's head of track operations, Luca Baldisserri, the team's problem is the result of their below par qualifying times. In a race such as Formula One, qualifying is as important as the race itself since this is where a driver can fight for the pole position which is important since all Formula One cars fielded are highly efficient and very fast machines.

"The problem is that being behind in qualifying means that we will have a difficult race," says Baldisserri. "To be honest, this is our pace in qualifying. It would seem that when McLaren put on new tires, they are much more consistently quick than we are. There's a slight correlation with the new soft compound tire, so we have tried to investigate more in that direction what we are missing and that's the main point of development."

The Italian contingent has recently concluded testing at the Silverstone Circuit which will host the British Grand Prix. The testing though is in preparation for the French Grand Prix. Luca Badoer sat behind the steering wheel of the Ferrari Formula One car for the tests. He posted the fifth fastest lap time the team looked into the overall setup of the car to get the best performance out of their new car.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa is currently in third in the driver's championship standings. The Brazilian already has two wins this season and has 39 points to his credit. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen sits at fourth with 32 points after seven races so far. He only leads Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber by six points.

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