Ferrari principals: Important to start fast for title hopes

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Ferrari has pinned the new regulations for 2014 as a golden opportunity to end its respective Formula One title droughts. And if Ferrari doesn’t start in a relative hole, the team hopes it will have a good chance.

That was one of the key points outlined by team principal Stefano Domenicali as part of Ferrari’s online launch Saturday morning.

“The season will be very long. It will be important to start with a very reliable car at the beginning, and have the dynamic on the other side that was here last year,”  he said in a video released by the team.

“There are lots of things to be tested and checked. The most important thing as we have to avoid is to fall under the big pressure that we have. It has to be very clear. Need to stay very focused on the job.”

Without saying as much, that seems like a directive from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo that it’s title-or-bust in 2014 for Domenicali, who has failed to achieve the mark since becoming team principal.

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen more or less echoed the thoughts.

“I think Kimi and me as a team, we should be quite strong on paper, as we have had some success in the past,” Alonso said in his video. “You need to discover every year where you’re at. It’s up to us to deliver and do a good job.”

Added Raikkonen, in his: “I want to be 100 percent focused as possible for the following season. It was a good time to have this thing done and get enough running of a Formula One car this year.

“If we are the strongest team, and I hope we will be, we both want to win and the time will tell if we can bring the championships back to Ferrari.”

Toro Rosso at crossroads after Kvyat’s point, Hartley’s strong debut

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In a weekend with something to prove at Circuit of The Americas, Daniil Kvyat rose to the occasion with what he called “his best race of the season for sure” at the United States Grand Prix.

But it may not be enough for the Russian to have saved his seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso for the three final races this year.

Meanwhile, New Zealander Brendon Hartley capped off his roller-coaster debut weekend in Formula 1 with a solid 13th place finish after starting from the rear of the grid, learning as the race went on and bringing home his Toro Rosso chassis to the flag.

Toro Rosso faces a dilemma of three drivers available but only two seats to fill for the final three Grands Prix, with the Mexican Grand Prix coming up just next week.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly will be back after missing Austin due to his Super Formula commitments at Suzuka in Japan, but ultimately that went for naught as the races were canceled due to a typhoon.

Kvyat qualified 12th, was promoted to 11th by way of grid penalties and ended 10th, scoring a point for only the third race this year and first time since coming ninth in the Spanish Grand Prix back in May.

It was a weekend where he would have been expected to outdo Hartley, and did so, but not by a massive margin. And he was already coming in with a track time disadvantage, losing out in FP1 as Indonesian Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael ran in his chassis.

As it was, he rated his weekend performance highly and didn’t do his chances of staying in the car any harm.

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Kvyat said, “Yeah, it was a perfect race. I did everything well. Brought the points home. It was close with (Felipe) Massa.

“We had some energy release issues on the engine. But it was a massive weekend. It was great. I really enjoyed myself. It was a good job by the team to keep it together with very limited running.

Hartley built up confidence throughout the weekend as he learned the car, the Pirelli tires and how an F1 race races versus an endurance race that he’d been used to doing for several years.

Having coming into the weekend with no expectations and just taking the race session-by-session, he felt good at the end of it.

“There’s so many little things to reflect on,” he told NBCSN. “I’ll put the eyes at rest and process it all. I did the standing start and it wasn’t the best… it’s been a long time.

“But yeah, (you’re learning) in terms of following in traffic, what 20 laps on these tires means, how much you can push it. I’m pretty satisfied. The pace was pretty strong. I made the mistake of getting passed by (Lance) Stroll. I couldn’t pass him back. Lots of challenges. I hope I can get another shot at it.

“Up until this moment… I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to do the job. I’m really relaxed. Now there might be some conversations.”

Toro Rosso figures to reveal its Mexican Grand Prix driver lineup early this week.