Ferrari are bracing themselves for another difficult weekend as Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen languish at the bottom of the timesheets during Friday practice in Bahrain.
The Italian team has yet to score a single point this season due to a combination of tactical mistakes in qualifying, poor reliability, and a general lack of pace from the Ferrari F60 – which currently lacks both a split-diffuser and a KERS system.
It is the Scuderia’s worst start to a Formula One season since their 1981 campaign and it has prompted team boss Luca di Montezemolo to fly out to Sakhir for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
If Ferrari’s performance in Friday practice is anything to go by Massa and Raikkonen can expect another difficult weekend. The pair both struggled badly with their setup and the harder compound tyres ending the second session fifteenth and eighteenth quickest, with Raikkonen almost dropping his Ferrari into the barriers after a spin.
“This was definitely not a good day. We worked a lot towards the race, but we have to try and improve the handling of the car to move up the order for tomorrow and Sunday,” said Massa.
“The harder tyre is very difficult to use, while the soft one seems to be the best, not just in terms of outright performance but also over a distance.”
Ferrari are re-evaluating their KERS device after safety and reliability concerns. Without it the team have been struggling for pace, and Massa, who tested the device in Bahrain admits that it brings an advantage.
“The KERS helps,” he said. “Without it, I would have certainly been slower. I made a mistake at the final turn on my last set of soft tyres, which cost me at least three tenths. We must be patient at the moment and try to do the best possible in these conditions.”
Ferrari have also been hit hard by the FIA’s ruling in favour of the split-diffuser. They were one of the teams to protest against the device, but unlike McLaren and Renault they have yet to integrate an interim version on their car. The Ferrari F60 is unchanged since last week’s Chinese Grand Prix and Raikkonen is expecting another tough race.
“We knew that the picture for this race would be no different to what we’ve seen in previous ones,” he said. “Today we opted to run in two different configurations and did a lot of work on finding the best set-up for the car.”
“We collected a lot of data which we will now analyse, to be as well prepared as possible for the race. We can expect a difficult weekend, but we were never in any doubt about that.”
Team principal Stefano Domenicali added: “Our car is unchanged from the way it was in Shanghai and therefore, we couldn’t expect a different picture.”
“Our aim is to bring home some points: we have to be realistic and at the moment, we cannot aspire to more than that. We have to tackle this difficult phase with a cool head, working on all fronts to try and get back to being competitive as soon as possible.”