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No quick fixes for Ferrari

April 20, 2009 16:16 IST

Ferrari are having their worst start to a season since 1981 but they are unlikely to make any major improvements to their car until Formula One returns to Europe after next weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Italian team failed to win a point for the third successive race since the start of the season in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, leaving the champions bottom of the standings and drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen seething with frustration.

Blame has been put on problems with the KERS energy recovery system, which they dumped for Shanghai, but most of all on the absence of a split-level diffuser like that which has proved so successful for championship leaders Brawn GP.

Team manager Luca Baldisserri remained in Italy last weekend to work on imporovements but the Spanish Grand Prix on May 10 looks like the earliest they can be expected.

"We look towards next weekend's race in Bahrain in a realistic frame of mind," team boss Stefano Domenicali said after the rain-drenched race on Sunday.

"The car will be the same as here, even though we will look at running the KERS again. In the meantime, we have to work intensively on getting the new aerodynamic components to the race track when the European part of the season gets underway in Barcelona."

LACKING POWER

Massa looked like producing an unlikely podium finish when he was running third in Shanghai but his car suddenly died on him after a software error and he was forced to retire.

Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, finished 10th after complaining about a lack of power in the early part of the race and an almost complete lack of grip later on.

"We have made mistakes and we are not quick enough," was the Finn's blunt assessment of the state of his team.

"In Barcelona when we have new aero parts," he added. "We should be able to pick up some of the grip we are lacking now. I am sure we can be competitive enough to win again but this work will take time."

Massa's race on Sunday was a reminder that not all of the team's problems this season can be put down to inferior aerodynamics, the software failure being the latest of a string of blunders to afflict the once ruthlessly efficient team.

A calamitous qualifying session and poor tyre selection cost them dear in Malaysia, and Massa admitted the rear diffuser would not necessarily be the answer to everything.

"We should quickly be getting some significant aerodynamic developments," said the Brazilian, runner up to world champion Lewis Hamilton by a single point last year.

"But it is true we have to sort out as soon as possible our reliability problems, because if we want to win, we have to finish races."

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