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Massa: Ferrari must regroup quickly

Felipe Massa admits Ferrari has to assess the reasons for its F60’s current shortcomings and the team’s recent tactical mistakes after its worst start to a season for 17 years continued in Malaysia.

Having suffered a double mechanical retirement following a race-long struggle last week in Australia, the reigning world champion team seemed to be set for a more competitive weekend at Sepang after finishing 1-2 in Friday practice.

However, a tactical blunder during the first stage of qualifying on Saturday resulted in Massa starting down in 16th while a further bizarre mis-read in the race saw Kimi Raikkonen put on the extreme wet tyres several laps before the rain actually started while running in fifth place.

The move ruined Raikkonen’s hopes of finishing in the points, while Massa’s recovery drive got as far as ninth before the event was red-flagged – meaning Ferrari has still to score a point following the season’s first two races.

“For sure it is a problem,” he told reporters when asked about its scoreless start to the season.

“There is always a problem when you don’t score points.

“In this kind of race our aim is to score points but it was not possible.

“Anyway it was a bad result.”

With there now a two-week gap between the China and Bahrain double-header, Massa says Ferrari has to come together to find solutions to its problems – admitting its F60 is simply not fast enough at the moment.

“We need to start from zero,” he said.

“We need to get together to understand point-by-point what is going wrong and try to improve everything – that is the idea.

“We were not great before and stupid now.

“For sure, the car is not strong enough, we need to work on that, and also we did some mistakes on the strategy so we need to get together and understand what the problem is

“But as I said we were not great in the past and not stupid now, so that’s my point of view.”

While Ferrari opted to play its tyre strategy gamble with Raikkonen despite the Finn running solidly in in the points, Massa followed the majority of field in pitting for the extreme wet rubber once the rain started on lap 21 only to stop soon after for the intermediates as the rain wasn’t as heavy as predicted.

The Brazilian admits it was a difficult situation for teams to get right.

Asked about whether he had the same option available to him as Raikkonen, he said: “It was a mistake for sure.

“They bet on the rain and the rain did not come straight away. It just came a bit later.

“Then when I came to pit I put the rain tyres on expecting as well the big rain, but then the rain stayed the same so it was raining very little

“The people on the intermediates were just flying.

“So I said if I stay three laps more here it is enough already to lose one stop so maybe it is better to pit and put the intermediates on because otherwise we will be completely behind these guys.

“Then I put the intermediates on and then came the big rain, so I needed to stop again and put on the rain tyres.

“So it was very difficult.”

Raikkonen, meanwhile, was left to bemoan the team’s decision to gamble with his strategy after he finished 14th.

“We made completely the wrong choices,” he lamented.

“In the end the race was stopped anyhow, but it all went wrong with the tyre choices.

“In the first race [in Melbourne] I made a mistake so I lost some points and here we had a good position until we took completely the wrong tyres.”

He also backed the decision to red-flag the race before half distance due to the waterlogged track surface.

“I mean you couldn’t see anything anymore,” he said.

“Probably no one would have stayed on the circuit so at that point it was the right decision because you could hardly stay on the circuit because there was too much water.”

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Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali says his squad will work around the clock to improve for China after another 'unacceptable' performance in Malaysia.

The reigning constructors' champion has yet to score in 2009 and made two massive strategic errors this weekend - allowing Felipe Massa to get knocked out in Q1 by deciding not to do a final run, and then putting Kimi Raikkonen onto wet tyres far too early in today's race.

"How can we be happy about these two grands prix? We cannot," said Domenicali.

"But this is a sport, this is our life, so we need to react immediately.

"There is no reason to cry, we have to work.

"One thing that I think the team has learned in these two weekends is that we were very strong in the past in difficult moments, and we have to be strong now, even though at this stage our car is not number one.

"Everybody needs to understand this situation and we need to react, that's the only medicine that we have to use.

"From a performance point of view we have to make sure we bring something back in China.

"We know that from what we have seen it's on the aero side that we need to make the difference, so an aerodynamic development is needed - we need to have more downforce.

"This is the critical point on the car that we are seeing now.

"We need to work day and night to try and anticipate everything we can to improve the performance of the car."

He said the decision to give Raikkonen wet tyres when the rain had not quite arrived was a gamble worth taking.

"We had information that the big downpour was coming, we felt some drops of rain at this stage, so because of this 'one plus one', that was our decision," Domenicali explained.

"If after 30s it had been totally wet as it unfortunately was six minutes later, it would have been a different situation."

Ferrari had been very quick in Friday practice, yet could not maintain that performance.

"We need to see why our car was, for example, very competitive on lots of fuel and the soft tyres on Friday, and other times was really very difficult," said Domenicali.

"This is a car that is very sensitive to different fuel loads and tyres.

"This is something that we need to understand and we're not there yet, so this is a big problem for performance."

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