Q & A with Ferrari's Aldo Costa

Ferrari have hit the ground running with their new F2008, which has proved to be very fast right from the start, making the Italian squad one of the big favourites for this year's championship

Q & A with Ferrari's Aldo Costa

The Maranello team, however, remain cautious about their chances and technical director Aldo Costa says there is still room for improvement.

Autosport.com heard from Costa after the team's penultimate test before the start of the season in Australia.

Q. How do you judge this race weekend simulation?

Aldo Costa: "We've done the running we wanted to do. We have still some problems which we clearly want to fix ahead of the first race. We still have the next tests to do what's needed.

"Today Felipe completed the race simulation, while Luca had to stop 15 laps from the end for a gearbox oil leak."

Q. What about the laptimes in qualifying?

AC: "We don't have reference points. Both drivers felt good with the car, but we don't have reference points. That wasn't the aim."

Q. Felipe's race pace was impressive, also considering the good weather conditions.

AC: "Yes. The weather was great, but again that wasn't our objective. Our aim was to do a lot of running and do a race simulation with the entire team, with pitstops and all the procedures. That was the objective, while it was less about looking at the performance, because when you run alone you might get disillusioned."

Q. Aren't you worried that everyone else says Ferrari is so much better than the rest?

AC: "We'll have to see in Melbourne. I think the fight will be tough as usual, so I wouldn't worry too much about these things."

Q. It's been a good pre-season for Ferrari. Has everything gone well in this off season?

AC: "We've clearly tried to anticipate many decisions, many tests in order to prepare ourselves best, but as you could see today we haven't reached perfection yet, so we aren't 100% satisfied."

Q. What are you afraid of at this point?

AC: "Well, the little problem of reliability. We need to take care of all aspects. We are sure we will get to the first race in the best possible conditions, not only from a performance point of view, but also in the reliability."

Q. The last test before Melbourne will be with Schumacher. What kind of indications do you expect from him?

AC: "As a way to alternate the drivers and give a bit of a breather to Felipe, we have the chance of working once more with Michael and we are happy about it. Let's hope he will do, as he always has, an excellent job. There's no question he will."

Q. How do you compare the new aerodynamics with the old one?

AC: "The results are as expected. We clearly want to test it more next week, but no surprises for now."

Q. This is the configuration for Melbourne?

AC: "Yes, this the Melbourne configuration."

Q. So there won't be a new wing as it was rumoured, and a hole in the nose?

AC: "I don't know, you'll have to wait a bit more, maybe."

Q. How much of an influence did the perfect track conditions have today?

AC: "As I was saying before, there are no reference points. We used fairly hard tyres, and we didn't have the tyres we will have for the Grand Prix here. The day was ideal."

Q. Did you use different compounds?

AC: "No, we used only one type of compound. We don't have at our disposal the tyres for the Grand Prix."

Q. They were the medium compound?

AC: "No, these were the hard compound."

Q. Going back to the fact that everyone sees you as favourites, what will be the decisive factor? Performance or reliability?

AC: "I carry on believing that the championship will be hard fought. For us there's a very strong Hamilton in McLaren, an improving Alonso in Renault, so we expect difficult rivals as usual. Therefore we keep our feet on the ground, and we try to get to the first race in the best possible way, especially by taking care of every detail in order to maximize reliability."

Q. Will there be any surprises? We've seen Williams often on top of the timesheets, do they have a chance to fight at the top?

AC: "Well, it's hard to say in the off-season, but yes, you are able to see who has done a good job, and Williams are in that group, so I expect a slight improvement from them, as I do maybe from Toyota. Some probably won't be as competitive as they were last year."

Q. With the lack of traction control, do you expect a bigger difference over a single qualifying lap or over a long run in the race?

AC: "We've seen that you can notice it a lot when there's little grip, for example in the wet, where the drivers have to be extremely careful, or when the track is dirty or the tyres aren't yet up to temperature. When the track is optimal, the grip is perfect, and the tyre is stable, the difference there is small."

Q. What kind of unexpected occurrences did you throw in the simulation? For example we saw the second pit stop with two cars one behind the other...

AC: "Yes, we simulated a few conditions, a couple of safety cars, we simulated double pit stops. We tried to simulate all those events that may occur throughout the year."

Q. How are things going with the MES ECU?

AC: "Well, it's a situation that, although accepted from the beginning, is very tough. By designing and building everything in-house we were clearly used to a much better level of reactivity. Now we have a supplier of this big technical issue that we used to do in-house. So we must get used to it, we must re-organize our methods in order to communicate with them in the best possible way."

Q. How do you judge it?

AC: "At the beginning we were very worried. We still are a bit, but things are improving in the relationship and the answers we get from them. However, it must be said that it's a difficult job for them to supply every team. Now to get to the first race with all the problems they may get from all the teams isn't an easy job. As for us, we've lost that flexibility we had in previous years, so it's more difficult to work this way."

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