Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has urged the Scuderia's fans - and, no doubt, the Italian media too - not to make early judgement on its performance following the disappointment of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.
Neither Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa made the final phase of Saturday's session, with the Spaniard spinning away his chances with a top ten slot within reach. While Massa continued to struggle with his F2012, only just escaping the cut in Q1, Domenicali insisted that the result - the pair will line up twelfth and 16th respectively - is not necessarily representative of Ferrari's place in the pecking order.
“We can only be disappointed after this qualifying session," Domenicali admitted, "Everyone had been waiting for this hour of qualifying to understand what the pecking order would be - we knew it would be tough for us and that's how it went. I understand that, at the moment, our fans are disappointed, but I would urge them to be cautious before making any definitive judgement, as if everything was already over. We need to remain calm and concentrated.
"It hurts to have neither driver on track for the final part of the session, even if we know that Fernando had every chance of getting at least this far if he had not got caught up in one of those incidents that are part of the game. Felipe was struggling with the balance of the car right from the morning and we need to look at it in depth to work out why.
"We have a lot of work to do and our engineers are well aware of that, as indeed they were before even leaving for Melbourne. The season is going to be very long, just as tomorrow's race will be long and hard. Given our grid positions, the realistic aim is for us to get both cars into the points. As usual, we will do our utmost.”
Technical director Pat Fry, the man brought in to turn the Scuderia around after a disappointing 2011 campaign, confirmed that the session had not gone to plan, but echoed Domenicali's hope that raceday may bring better fortunes.
“There's no denying that was a difficult qualifying," he sighed, "It's true that, with Fernando, we could have got into Q3 with relative ease, given the time he did on his only lap in Q2 with used soft [tyres], but I don't think we could have got higher than the fourth row. Unfortunately, Felipe was struggling with the balance of his car for the whole day and we will have to do a lot of work to try and sort out the situation as much as possible for tomorrow's race.
"Let's hope that, over a long distance things, can be better and we will at least try and exploit the fact that Fernando has no less than four sets of new tyres, while Felipe has two. Clearly, the two drivers' grid positions are what they are, but we will give it our best shot. But it is equally clear that we must work like never before to make the F2012 quicker and to try and reduce the gap to the best as soon as possible.”