Fernando Alonso's comments during his English language press gathering on Thursday in India were fairly bland - as apparently were those in his Spanish session. But in Italian he seemed determined to send a message to the team.
The essence of his statement was that, in the past few races, Ferrari has tended to talk about its new parts from Monday through until Thursday, then fit them to the car, find no improvement and take them back off. This was, he said, in stark contrast to the team doing the winning at the moment, which says nothing, but constantly puts new development parts on the car that stay on because they work.
Red Bull, in other words, was winning the development war, and that was making Ferrari's title quest very difficult.
Since arriving in India, Ferrari has said very little. But the car has new front and rear wings and a new diffuser. These all remained on Alonso's car throughout Friday practice and it would appear they were a step forward. Alonso was marginally the fastest in the final long runs. In that sense, it seems progress is being made.
But Red Bull continues to put this into perspective; Sebastian Vettel's best low-fuel lap in the afternoon on the soft option tyres was 0.5 seconds faster than third-fastest Alonso's (with Mark Webber's Red Bull second). That's slightly misleading in that Alonso's time came six laps into a run, after the tyres were past their best, his early laps being spoilt with a moment and subsequently traffic.
At least half of that 0.5s could therefore be wiped. Which would leave the Ferrari within sniffing distance of the Red Bull in qualifying and with directly comparable race pace. But he who qualifies at the front controls the race, and it's difficult to see past the Red Bulls - with new turning vanes atop the sidepods - for the front row.
Ferrari definitely looks best of the rest, as McLaren was struggling on Friday. Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Jenson Button could get the option tyre working on the short-run qualifying simulations. In the long run, Button had to pull off after a couple of laps with another gearbox problem. Hamilton averaged just a couple of tenths slower than Alonso on the long runs, but he too was reporting gearshift difficulties.
Fernando Alonso's Ferrari is sporting new front and rear wings this weekend © XPB
A lot of work is needed to turn this weekend around for the team.
Mercedes and Lotus each set marginally quicker low-fuel times than McLaren, although only Lotus could follow that up with good long-run pace. The Merc's double DRS is evidently very effective through the first sector, with its long back straight, but on race pace, with the DRS not in use, Nico Rosberg was around 1s off the leaders.
With almost zero tyre degradation but a slight concern about wear on the inner shoulder of the front-right - because of it being dragged at camber through the fast Turns 10-11 - it looks set to be a straightforward two-stop race, with one-stopping on the radar of the midfield and lower.
As ever, the Red Bulls are slow at the end of the straight but faster than anything else onto them. It's a very distinctive performance pattern, but an overwhelmingly powerful one.
The team is indeed winning the development war - and everything else - at the moment.
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