David Marshall: "There seem to be conflicting stories regarding Ferrari. Some reports suggest Barcelona is crucial for them, but Fernando Alonso has come out and said being on the front isn't make or break. What's the reality?
Edd Straw: It depends what your definition of 'make or break' is. Around the time of the Australian and Malaysian grands prix, the focus was very much on a big step in Barcelona. But as it became apparent that Ferrari couldn't deliver a big enough improvement (which is not to say that it didn't do a good job, because you don't make a net gain of not far off a second in one go), those expectations were pushed back.
Alonso said after the Mugello test that Barcelona is the first step in a series of upgrades with packages to follow at Montreal and Valencia that will get it "close" to the frontrunners. You might say that it's a case of tomorrow never comes, but frankly it takes a long time to catch up in contemporary F1. The days when you could strap a fan on the back or slap on an upside-down wing and expect to take a leap forward have long gone.
For Ferrari, it's a question of continuous progress. The Mugello package and the additional new parts that ran on the Friday of the Spanish Grand Prix should add up to a net gain. That will give Ferrari the platform it needs to build on in the following races. It's crucial insofar as Ferrari must show an improvement if it is to get into the mix for regular wins, but it's part of the development curve, not the end of it.