Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's sporting director Stefano Domenicali said after his team's one-two in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix that he considers grid position to be absolutely crucial in this year's World Championship.
"The most important thing that we saw is the fact that qualifying is crucial," explained Domenicali. "The one who starts from pole has a big advantage, the advantage to make the pace. Qualifying will be, in my view, the thing that we have to concentrate on a lot because if you look at the pace that we had on Friday, the gap seemed to be significant and then on Saturday it was less, so we really need to focus our work on this part of the racing weekend."
Asked how much of a gain he thought the team would have prior to the race weekend in comparison to other teams, Domenicali was on the conservative side. "Well, normally we try to simulate the performance that we gained but I would say that we were estimating about one tenth. I don't know if it's more than that now. I don't think it's enough. We saw that they (the competition) are pushing like hell.
"It was a very different race with two safety cars that interrupted the pace at which we were progressing but we did need to keep up the pace and we don't need to lose control of reliability because they were only three seconds behind us. The pace will be very tight and we are leading both championships but it will be very very long, believe me."
And Domenicali is well aware that certain unpredictable factors can make a big difference. "Look at Heidfeld," he pointed out. "Heidfeld was unlucky in a way with the conditions of the safety car, because he was forced to stop when he basically had no more fuel, so he had to pay a penalty. This may happen to us in a race, so what are you going to do then? Are you going to be behind and lose some very important points. So this is why we really think that these results are very important. I don't know what the English equivalent is but you bring home food and you use it when you need it."
Did Domenicali feel that the regulation had to be reviewed, in that it was so arbitrary in its effect? "I don't know if it will be possible to be changed before the end of the season. For sure it's under discussion in the next Sporting Working Group, it's on the agenda. It's something that we want to work out because for sure it's very unlucky if you get in that situation but this could happen to anyone. Don't forget that a safety car in a normal way can be very unlucky so we need to stay cool and think what is the best option for everyone before changing something. The worst thing that we can do in Formula One now is to make a change and then suddenly realise that we've changed it for the worse and then you get lost. Before you do something, it's better to think ten times."
The question of Ferrari's competitors arose, particularly in relation to McLaren, but also Renault, so how realistic was the team's performance and McLaren's in the 66 lap race? "The safety car changed the picture of the race. For sure, Lewis at the end was pretty fast and we were trying to monitor him to use the gap in a safe way. We were trying to monitor his lap times but it was fast, that's for sure.
"We also saw that Fernando did an incredible lap yesterday because he was quite light on fuel, he stopped around lap 15. For sure Renault have made a step forward. They had problems with the reliability of one car and the other one touched with another car, so it's difficult to say but for sure they made a step, no doubt.
"Everyone's made a step. That was expected to be honest, because they worked here last week with new parts after the first part of the season. Now we will see what will be the new developments of our main competitors in Turkey and then we will go to Monte Carlo where I'm expecting to see a difficult racing weekend for everyone with cars that are less stable, the fact that the guardrails are very close so I think that will be an interesting racing weekend, but it's too early. Now we have to concentrate on Turkey."