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Ferrari thankful for end of “painful” season

Ferrari’s 2009 season finished with barely a whimper on Sunday at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing 12th from 11th on the grid in his final race for the team, while Giancarlo Fisichella’s miserable time in Ferrari red saw the veteran Italian finish 16th after a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali said on Sunday night that the 2009 season was “painful” for his team, and looked to recent history for a sign that an upswing in fortunes could come sooner rather than later.

“You remember in 2005 that we had 19 Grands Prix, and we suffered like hell like that year,” said Domenicali, referencing the difficult season in which Ferrari won just a solitary Grand Prix, the race at Indianapolis in the United States disputed by just six cars after all of the Michelin-shod runners withdrew.

“We used this (2005) season to get to get out of our situation with Ferrari spirit. This is what we have to learn from this season. We made the very difficult decision in July to focus on the next season. It’s a very painful decision, and we have to suffer and make a rational decision. It has been painful to pay this year, so we hope it will be good for next year.”

Ferrari finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2009, its worst finish in the teams’ title race since 1993, and Sunday’s non points-scoring performance was the fifth of 17 races this season where neither Ferrari finished inside the top eight. Domenicali hinted on Sunday that without KERS, which was employed only by Ferrari and McLaren in the latter half of the season, things could have been even worse.

“Retrospectively, we suffered a lot with KERS in the beginning, but it was because of KERS that were able to help us to cover a lot of the problems with the downforce on our car,” he said.

For the year, Ferrari managed a single win (to Kimi Raikkonen in Belgium), six podiums between Raikkonen, Fisichella, Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer, and finished the season without a fastest lap for the first time in 15 years.

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