Flavio Briatore: Ferrari to write off 2011; Focus on 2012 image

The Italian businessman and team leader Flavio Briatore has advised Ferrari to write off 2011 after this year’s 150 Italia car struggled in Melbourne last weekend.

The Italian team, featuring Fernando Alonso as its lead driver, is currently investigating why the new car was not as good in Australia after a promising winter test campaign.

“It may sound absurd, but I think Ferrari should focus on the 2012 car now,” Briatore, the ousted former Renault boss and Alonso’s manager, is quoted as saying by Finland’s Turun Sanomat.

“Ferrari, of course, have all the engineering skills and resources that you need, but the half-second difference to Red Bull is an eternity,” he added.

Briatore said that gap cannot be closed in two months, by which time Sebastian Vettel could be unassailable “If Red Bull maintain their condition and he (Vettel) keeps the same lead on Mark Webber”.

The flamboyant Italian also reinforced his criticism of Michael Schumacher’s continuing F1 comeback.

“I’ve always been against it — a 40-year-old can never be the same as someone who is 20. Michael is half-retired already and his great career is having a nasty end,” said Briatore.

Meanwhile, former ten-time GP winner Gerhard Berger agrees with Briatore that Red Bull is unlikely to be caught by its rivals this year.

“Why should there be a big change?” the Austrian told Bild newspaper. “All the same people will all keep working, so I don’t foresee a turning p