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The Star Online: Sports

Ferrari to detail overhaul at winter retreat

Posted: 11 Jan 2011 02:15 AM PST

ROME (AP) - Ferrari team director Stefano Domenicali considered stepping down after the Italian team's disastrous final race of 2010.

Technical director Aldo Costa had nightmares for several days.

It's been that kind of offseason for Ferrari, which has done some deep soul-searching in the wake of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso entered the final race leading the drivers' standings but Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won the title after a series of strategic errors by the Italian team.

Ferrari has made several management changes since the forgettable November race and the team is due to introduce its new outlook at its annual winter retreat in the Alpine resort of Madonna Di Campiglio this week.

Domenicali will detail the changes on Wednesday and Alonso and fellow driver Felipe Massa will discuss their outlooks Thursday.

Last week, Ferrari announced that former Red Bull strategist Neil Martin will head up its new operations research department and that technical deputy Pat Fry will take on the additional role of head of race track engineering.

Chris Dyer, who previously was in charge of race track engineering, will have his company role "redefined," having allegedly made the final call on the failed race strategy in Abu Dhabi.

Italian media have reported that Martin will not travel to races, but instead direct Ferrari's remote control center at its Maranello headquarters.

In Abu Dhabi, Ferrari made a miscalculation on how long its tires would last, which led to a poor pit-stop strategy that didn't consider traffic problems created by slower cars when Alonso came back out onto the track.

At the remote control center, Martin and a group of 10 or so technicians can work without the noise and stress of the pitlane, feeding helpful data to the team at the track.

A 38-year-old Australian, Martin spent 11 seasons with McLaren then joined Red Bull in 2007. He left Red Bull in May of last year with the Ferrari job in mind.

Fry, a 46-year-old Englishman who spent 17 years with McLaren before joining Ferrari last year, will have the final word on strategic decisions at the track, while Domenicali will still coordinate the team.

"From a methodology point of view, we have changed nearly everything and I'm certain that we will see the results of all this work soon," Domenicali said in a recent interview with La Repubblica.

Since Domenicali replaced Jean Todt at the end of the 2007 season, Ferrari has not won a drivers title, and in the last two years it hasn't won any championships at all - drivers' or constructors'.

Domenicali acknowledges that he did some "necessary reflecting" after the Abu Dhabi disaster.

"But I came to the conclusion that resigning would have been a mistake," he told Repubblica.

"I know the team and I think I'm the right person to take best advantage of everything that has happened in the last few months. ... We've got to avoid throwing everything away because of (one) mistake."

Ferrari also missed out on winning the drivers' title on the final day of the 2008 season, when Massa was beaten by Lewis Hamilton by one point.

And in 2009, Ferrari won only one race as it struggled to compete with Brawn GP.

In the end, Domenicali acknowledges that the best solution would be developing a faster car.

"Last year's car was definitely slower than the Red Bull cars - 0.40 seconds in qualifying and 0.20 in the race," he said.

"We've got to try and bridge that gap, right away."

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No. 1 Nadal back to practice in Melbourne

Posted: 11 Jan 2011 12:02 AM PST

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Top-ranked Rafael Nadal has returned to practice and commenced his fine-tuning for his "Rafa Slam" ahead of the Australian Open.

Nadal, who was ousted in the semifinals by Nikolay Davydenko last week at the Qatar Open, had his first practice cut short by rain in Melbourne on Tuesday, local media reported.

Nadal was recovering from a cold which forced him to rest for two days in Doha before making the trip to Australia for the season's first major, which starts Monday at Melbourne Park.

The Spaniard is aiming to be the first man since Rod Laver to hold all four Grand Slam trophies at once, although it won't be a true Grand Slam. Laver won all four in a calendar year in 1969.

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