- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

SHANGHAI (AP) - Ferrari’s team principal says there is cause for gloom but no reason to panic after its worst start to a Formula One season in 28 years.

Star driver Felipe Massa was running as high as third Sunday before an electrical failure in the Chinese Grand Prix, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished 10th. It was the first time since 1981 that Ferrari had gone three races into a season without a single point.

“We need to stay cool,” Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said. “There is no reason to get in a panic mode because that would be worse.”

Massa, retiring on lap 21 with what the team called a “software management problem,” said the only solution to Ferrari’s ills is to keep trying and work harder.

“I would say to our fans that they should not give up on us, as this is a difficult moment, but the championship is still long,” Massa said. “I’m very disappointed and a bit upset, but my motivation is still intact.”

Domenicali doused speculation that Ferrari might cut its losses, abandon further development of its 2009 car and get a head start on the 2010 model.

“In the first three races there were so many things that came out and that changed the situation radically that we need to keep on pushing,” he said. “It’s too early to draw too easy a conclusion now after only three races.”

Still, 2007 world champion Raikkonen was glum at the Italian team’s reversal of fortune.

“Not good,” the Finn said. “If we had had a dry race today, we would have scored some points. But we don’t have the grip anyhow in the dry condition and then in the wet it seems to be even more difficult.”

The Ferraris were without the tricky KERS power-boost technology after the team jettisoned it following the Malaysian Grand Prix. But the lack of KERS _ and thus speed on the straights _ was only part of the problem.

“No, no, no, no. It’s much more complicated for sure than just that device,” Domenicali said. “It will be wrong to think that’s the only key.”

Raikkonen wants more downforce, Massa merely wants a car that keeps going.

“We need to make the car quicker and we need to make the car more reliable,” Massa said. “Even if the car is quick but if you don’t finish the race it doesn’t matter.”

Ferrari was expected to try the KERS device again in next week’s race in Bahrain, though full development of the car would have to wait for the following race in Barcelona.

“This is what we would like to do,” Domenicali said of plans for Bahrain. “This is our target for sure.

“For sure, we will see after Spain where we are.”

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