F1: Ferrari exude calm after 'rare' hitch in Bahrain
Component that ruined Alonso's chances had worked fine for 3 yrs24 April, 17:32
The Spaniard had to take an unscheduled pitstop after the DRS (drag reduction system) on his car's rear wing jammed when he was in second place.
The two-time world champion then had to compete for much of the race without the driver-operated flap on the wing, which can be opened to boost speed for overtaking in certain areas of the track, and ended up coming eighth.
It was a big blow to Alonso, who had been looking to overtake Red Bull's treble world champion Sebastian Vettel after winning the previous race in China. Instead he now finds himself 30 points behind the German leader of the drivers' standings, in fourth place. But the Italian glamour team put out a statement on their website entitled "All calm despite the problems of Bahrain" in which they explained that the DRS failure was caused by a mechanical component that had been used for three years without giving any trouble.
"The failure is not something that causes concern for the long term, although attention to reliability must always remain at the highest level," Ferrari said. The Bahrain race was especially unlucky for Ferrari as Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa had a collision at the start and then suffered two punctures before finishing 15th.
As a result Ferarri dropped from second to third in the constructors' standings, 32 behind leaders Red Bull. "It's hard to recall a race where so many things went wrong," Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said after returning Ferrari's Maranello base from Bahrain. "The DRS failure prevented Fernando, who yet again produced a great performance, from fighting Vettel for the win. "Then for Felipe, there were the two tyre-related problems that pushed him out of the points and prevented from getting the top five finish that was within his grasp. "We had the potential to get these results, but we were unable to do so, partly because of external influences".
The team remain upbeat though given that the new race car, the F138, looks fast enough to contend with the other top teams and is also performing well in qualifying - a problem area for Ferrari in recent years.
"We must also continue to develop the car and increase our understanding of the tyres, which is more crucial than ever this year," said Domenicali, who also saw Alonso crash out early in the second race of the season in Malaysia.
"In these first four races of the season, we have not managed, for various reasons, to bring home the points that were within our grasp. "That's why the gap to the top in both classifications seems quite large, but we must not be discouraged by this, quite the contrary, because we have seen so often, both in our favour and against, how things can change in a hurry. "We believe in our ability to be in the fight for the titles right to the end and this time, we have been in that fight since the start, which has not been the case for a while," he added, referring to early-season problems in 2011 and 2012.
"At the same time, we must be aware that in order to achieve our objectives, we have to be perfect in every area".