Ferrari’s Domenicali: We’ll be there at the end

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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali firmly believes that his team can come roaring out of the gate next weekend in Melbourne — and that they’ll be a force throughout the 2013 season.

“What are the factors that have convinced me that Ferrari has made a step forward?,” Domenicali said to the official Formula One website. “The new business structure, the working methods, the modifications to the equipment that we have used to work on this car, the consistency of the results compared with our targets and what we saw in the recent tests – these all seem to tell us that we are on the right path at last compared to the past.

“So, to make an analysis that is purely centred on ourselves, unless someone else has done an exceptional job, I’m convinced that Ferrari will be in the battle to the end.”

Ferrari dealt with early woes on the F2012 machine last year, but its top driver, Fernando Alonso, still was able to push eventual champ Sebastian Vettel all the way to the finale before losing out on the title by a mere three points. Alonso is feeling every bit as confident about Ferrari’s chances as Domenicali, who hopes to see at least a top-three effort in Australia from either the Spaniard or his other driver, Felipe Massa.

“A podium in Australia would be a good base on which to build the kind of successes we need,” Domenicali said.

In last year’s season opener Down Under, Alonso finished fifth while Massa retired in the second half of the race following an incident with Bruno Senna.

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.