We win together, we lose together - Domenicali
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has set the bar high for his drivers in the final races in the 2008 World Championship after the team failed to score points in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.
"The objective that we have is clear," said Domenicali. "We have three races to go, we will approach the last three races aware that we need to finish first and second every time. We have the potential to do so, so the target is very clear. It is not easy, but don't forget that we have raced in very difficult situations over the last couple of years, and we were sometimes able to win, sometimes unfortunately to lose but the motivation is still the same. The team is very strong; unfortunately you have the moments such as this Sunday but after two hours we were already motivated and looking forward to going to Japan to attack again."
The team's fortunes were compromised on lap 17 of the 61 lap race when a safety car resulted in half the field making a pit stop. Massa came in first and was released early into the path of a Toyota, with the fuel rig still attached. He stopped at the pit lane exit to have it disconnected and eventually had to serve a stop-go penalty.
Kimi Raikkonen had to queue up behind his teammate, rejoined 15th and fought through to fifth place before crashing five laps from home. His performance after the safety car went in suddenly improved after half a dozen laps.
"Maybe at the beginning the tyre pressures were a bit too low," explained Domenicali. "When the pressures came up to the right level, he was able to push. He got fastest lap and he was catching up with Lewis (Hamilton), because the strategy was going in the right direction.
"It was really a shame that we got this result because today is really a black day. The best car (the Ferrari) is the last on the result sheet," suggested Domenicali. "Sometimes you have to consider that the safety car is mixing up the situation of the race, but this time it was too much. I don't want to discuss situations that may arise under safety car conditions, because it's unpredictable. Sometimes they are going in the right direction and sometimes in the wrong direction.
"In that respect, Renault did very well with the safety car, and congratulations, they won the race. Unfortunately we didn't get the result that we wanted - not only that we wanted, but that we had in our hands, because we saw the performance of the car yesterday (in qualifying), we saw the performance of the car in the first stint of the race."
Regarding the problem with Massa's stop, Domenicali pointed out "that historically, during the last ten or 12 years, there were always problems during the pit stops. I remember very well problems with Michael and Rubens. So it's not true that we have made more mistakes than in the past. Unfortunately, we shouldn't have them, but that's another story."
Domenicali explained that "unfortunately there was a mistake. We were not using the electronic system, it was run manually. When there are a lot of cars coming into the pit in a safety car situation, it is better to have (the system working) like a lollipop but instead of a lollipop you control the green light and unfortunately there was a mistake."
Asked whether the team will stick to this system for the remainder of the season, Domenicali said "we will analyse what we did in the other pit stops. It was a tense moment, again a guy was knocked down. He's OK, no problem at all, but it's a very tense moment, so we preferred not to use it for the other pit stops because we wanted to give a sign of less tension. It's a system that is trying to give as good a performance as possible.
"At that moment you have to consider that there were so many cars coming in and of course, you try to be quick, you try to find the right slot in order for the car to be released, so it was a difficult moment. I don't think a lot of people would want to wear the overalls of the guy who has to manage the pit stop. We have to have a lot of respect for these guys. They are not top drivers but part of the team. It is very difficult and they have a lot of pressure."
There was no question that he would lose his job. "We win together, we lose together and in that respect the philosophy will not change because of one unfortunate mistake. He felt very bad of course, as you can imagine. Felipe went to see him straight away, and he said, OK guy, look ahead. As I said, we're always together."