Monza - Ferrari team chief Marco Mattiacci has warned the iconic team's fans to expect “an extremely difficult” home race at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
While most attention will be focussed on the resumption of hostilities between the championship leading Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the tifosi will be more concerned with the travails of the scarlet scuderia as they bid for some glory on home soil.
“We must keep doing what we've been doing, which is keep very calm, make the right decisions knowing that we are away from the top, and take any opportunities,” said Mattiacci.
“That's the approach we have for Monza. It's going to be extremely difficult, that we are aware. Let's see what we can do on the other side.”
Ferrari has not won its home Grand Prix since two-time champion Fernando Alonso was triumphant in 2010 - a feeling he wants to repeat in the future, if winning is beyond the team this Sunday, he said this week.
“I want to win for Ferrari, I want to win here and finish the job that we started some years ago and we will see what the future comes,” the Spaniard said, in an interview with Sky Sports News during which he also made clear he has no intention of leaving Ferrari for another team.
“Obviously, there has been a lot of talk from the summer of last year, the start more or less, but from my mouth never came any interest to leave Ferrari or any words saying that I will join another team,” he explained.
RUMOURS FUELLING TENSION
“There are a lot of speculations which is not disturbing, but it creates a bit of tension around and stress, but also you feel proud, you feel happy that the best teams have interest in you and they say it in public.”
Alonso acknowledged that he is not relishing racing his Ferrari this year following the radical rule changes that have reduced noise and speed, and increased the frustration.
“It is quite boring in the car,” he admitted. “It is a tough year to be in Formula One.”
The same cannot be said for Mercedes where, following Rosberg's collision with Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix, the team reprimanded and punished the championship-leading German.
He and Hamilton, who is 29 points behind with seven races remaining, spoke of continuing to work together, despite their differences and rivalry, but it is difficult to imagine that they will avoid any further conflict as the title race runs down to the wire.
“It is clear that Mercedes keep showing a consistent performance, particularly in the overall package,” said Mattiacci, when asked about Ferrari's prospects this weekend at Monza.
“We have been facing heavy races (before) with a concern about our lack of competitiveness, but at the same time, there is always an opportunity. Formula One is about drivers, human beings, and strategy.”
On a high speed circuit that famously favours raw power as the cars streak through the woods in the former royal park, Mercedes have a clear advantage with their superior engines, but Red Bull have proved with three wins in six races - all taken by the outstanding young Australian Daniel Ricciardo - that they are ready to profit when Mercedes slip up.
Brake failures, fires and internal strife have undermined the Mercedes machine in that spell and their rivals will hope for more failings - or Rosberg-Hamilton clashes - this weekend.
In theory, the two Mercedes men should have it all their own way this weekend and will have a perfect opportunity to fight fair and prove they can operate as a partnership, as well as rivals.
But Red Bull and Ferrari will be keen to pick up the pieces if another red mist descends on the silver arrows and all three teams may be put under serious pressure by Williams.