- Associated Press - Sunday, April 15, 2012

SHANGHAI (AP) - Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso says his team realizes it can’t fix its problems overnight.

Ferrari has struggled and failed to build on Fernando Alonso’s surprise win at the Malaysian Grand Prix last month, with the Spaniard placing ninth at the Chinese GP on Sunday and teammate Felipe Massa finishing down in 13th.

“There’s no point denying we are disappointed,” team principal Stefano Domenicali said. “We had the potential to get a better result than this, but we did not manage it.”

One of Ferrari’s biggest problems so far this year is a lack of pace in both qualifying and races _ an issue that can’t be addressed until after next week’s Bahrain GP, Alonso said.

“Obviously, this does not leave me very optimistic for Bahrain, on a track where traction and speed are vital, exactly the areas where we are weakest,” he said after the race.

Earlier this week, Alonso said the team was working to improve the car’s aerodynamics to improve its speed.

“We know we are far behind and we need to work,” he said. “One second is a big gap to recover. But the car has some big problems in terms of aerodynamics, which give us the optimism inside the team that we can recover. Maybe not one second, but a lot of time if we put a couple of things that are not working in the right place.

Massa is under pressure to justify his position in the team. In three races so far this year, he’s yet to score a point.


KIMI’S COMEBACK: For a handful of laps toward the end of Sunday’s race, it looked like 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen was going to reach the podium for the first time since his comeback for Lotus.

The Finn moved up to second place on the 41st lap and managed to hold off numerous challenges by Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel until the German finally passed him on the inside of Turn 6 seven laps later.

By then, Raikkonen’s tires were just about shot with the Finn having only pitted twice in the race _ the last time on the 28th lap. Vettel went by him first, then Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber in quick succession.

On the next lap, six more drivers passed him, leaving Raikkonen in 12th place. He finished a disappointing 14th.

“We tried to run two stops as it looked to be the fastest strategy, and up until the last 10 laps it was looking good. But we ran out of tire performance at the end,” Raikkonen said. “We had good pace in the race, we tried a different strategy and it didn’t pay off today. It’s as simple as that.”

Raikkonen has had fairly decent results since returning to the track this year, finishing seventh in Australia and fifth in Malaysia.

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