Kimi Raikkonen has conceded that Ferrari is in for another 'difficult' weekend in Bahrain, after lapping slowest of all in Friday practice – arguing that the Scuderia's
greatest issue is a lack of time and suggesting that the new order at the forefront of Formula 1 is entirely 'normal'.
Ferrari has endured its worst start to a season in some 28 years in 2009, with neither Raikkonen nor team-mate Felipe Massa troubling the scorers over the course of the opening three grands prix in Australia, Malaysia and China – and this for two men who finished respectively second (Massa) and third in the drivers' standings last year.
Raikkonen has estimated that the struggling F60 is in the region of a second a lap away from the front-runners, and given that he was only 1.3 seconds shy of the leading pace in practice in Sakhir – just behind Massa – that is a worrying assessment indeed. Three tenths of a second quicker would have put the Finn just 16th still, and whilst a new 'double-decker' split level diffuser should gain the team around half a second when it is introduced, most likely in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona in two weeks' time, that alone is unlikely to be enough to provide the 29-year-old with a chance of repeating his 2007 title success.
On the positive side, Raikkonen has finished up on the rostrum in Bahrain in four appearances out of five, and Ferrari was one of only three teams – in company with BMW-Sauber and Toyota – to take advantage of the opportunity to test there in the build-up to the campaign. The lack of in-season testing time, though, is costing the Maranello-based outfit dear, with opportunities to play catch-up now severely limited – and 'other work' keeping the Espoo native away from the factory in-between races.
“It has definitely not been what we were looking for or what I was looking for either,” he reflected in characteristically phlegmatic fashion. “Of course we had pretty good winter testing, but we don't have the speed right now in the car unfortunately. We probably saw in the last test that we were not where we wanted to be exactly, but we just need to work harder and improve the situation and get back to where we want to be. We know that we can do it, but it takes a while.
“Hopefully we can turn it around pretty quickly, I expect at the next race. We are going to get some new parts at the next race, but this race probably will be a bit difficult again. For sure we would rather be up there, but right now we are not in a position to fight for that, so we just need to do the best we can here and then hopefully get back to where we should be in the next race.
“Hopefully the testing here at the beginning of the year will help a bit and it will be slightly better for us, but I don't know yet. We need to wait and see. It has usually been okay for us. Of course we are not in the position we were in the last few years right now, but I still think we should have a better chance here than maybe at some previous races. We will do the best that we can here and hopefully we will get some points.
“When you have a situation like the one we are in, it would probably be nice to try the new parts before the race but that's how it is; we're having some time off, so we will go to the next race and sort it out there. All the people are working 100 per cent – they know what they're doing. It's more the time that's against us than anything else.
“I have some other work to do anyhow. I don't know if I will go to the factory or not – if they need me, yes, but people know what they're doing. We usually plan the meetings if we need something, but we are here and we always discuss all those things, so it probably won't be necessary to go there.”