Ferrari must make their car quicker as soon as possible or risk racing among the also-rans for the rest of the season, Kimi Raikkonen said on Saturday.
The Italian team, constructors' champions last year, have made their worst start for 17 years with no points from the first two races of the season.
The 2007 World champion told reporters on Friday the team simply could not compete for the championship at the moment and the Finn had not changed his mind after qualifying eighth for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
"Of course I'm not happy with eighth place but, given our current potential, we have to settle for this," said Raikkonen.
"The problem is the same, we are just not quick enough. The car isn't handling badly but we are giving away a second to the best. I hope we will get some developments quickly but, in the meantime, we will try to do our best with what we've got."
What Raikkonen and his team mate Felipe Massa have got is a car without the KERS energy recovery system or the split-level rear diffuser used to such telling effect by several teams at the top of the constructors' standings.
The team decided to dispense with KERS on Thursday, much to the disappointment of Massa who failed to get into the final round of qualifying and will line up on the seventh row of the grid for Sunday's race.
"Not having KERS is definitely a handicap in my case, especially in qualifying," said the Brazilian, who was just pipped to the title by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton last season.
Massa conceded that his own mistake had caused him to miss out on the top 10 but team boss Stefano Domenicali said one driver in final qualifying was about what they could expect at the moment.
"A team like Ferrari cannot claim to be happy with getting one car through to the final part of qualifying, but given our current technical situation, that's what we could aim for today," he said.
In the last race in Malaysia, a tactical blunder in qualifying led to Massa starting 16th -- he finished ninth -- while Raikkonen's chance of points was ended by a poor tyre choice before torrential rain ended the race.
Team manager Luca Baldisserri was subsequently left behind in Italy to work on improvements to the car to try and bridge the gap with the frontrunners.
"We knew this would be a difficult weekend, fought out on the back foot and that is proving to be the case," Domenicali added.
"We will try to get the best out of our potential at our disposal, to bring home the best possible result."