Last week, Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo tried to quell the voices that were claiming that the Italian team had given up hope of winning this year's Formula 1 championship, on the basis of the huge points difference between their star driver Fernando Alonso and current leader Sebastian Vettel, of Red Bull. "In Ferrari no one gives up," he said. "We have to fight for every race." Those words must have served as an incentive for the members of Ferrari, given that Alonso took the checkered flag at Sunday's British Grand Prix, racking up the team's first win this season.
Ferrari rolled out a new aero package, a new exhaust system and new suspension at Silverstone, which gave the car better results than had been expected. "We were expecting an improvement for sure," said team leader Stefano Domenicali. "But it was so big to be honest, we need to be cautious, we need to understand the data, and we need to understand what the others are doing." The true test for the jump will be at the Nürburgring in less than two weeks, for the German Grand Prix.
At that race, restrictions that were introduced at the weekend in Britain to limit the amount of exhaust gas that could be blown over the car's rear diffuser ? thus reducing the amount of downforce and grip on corners ? will be lifted. That is when Ferrari will have to show that the performance of its car at Silverstone was not just the consequence of these restrictions on the competition. Red Bull in particular is thought to be so dominant this season thanks to the amount of exhaust gas the car creates while the driver is off the throttle.
As soon as he got out of the car on Sunday, Alonso himself said that the regulation change had had zero effect on the result. Domenicali also tried to downplay it: "I think that anyone can say something different, because no one really knows what they are talking about. I hear in this period so many things from one second to three-tenths. It is like playing with dice. I don't know."
The upcoming race at the Nürburgring will be the true test for Ferrari's newfound pace.