Ferrari number one driver Fernando Alonso has warned the Scuderia face a 'trial by fire' in Malaysia next weekend.
The Maranello-based outfit had a dismal weekend 'down under' and while the Spaniard did recover well in today's Australian Grand Prix, finishing fifth, despite only starting twelfth, he knows they need to make some big steps with the F2012 if they are to be competitive this season.
“We knew it would be a very complicated race and I am happy I managed to bring home a useful number of points,” Alonso said after the 2012 F1 opener at Melbourne's Albert Park.
“I got a great start and managed a few passing moves in the early stages and later, after the Safety Car, there was a tough fight with [Pastor] Maldonaldo: when I saw he'd gone off the track I breathed a sigh, because he had been really close to me for quite a few laps up until then.
“I was slower than him and all I could do was defend my position, using the KERS at a few specific points. I am sorry for him, because it's a real shame to finish a race like that.
“As for the positive points to come out of today, they would be the start, the pit stops and the strategy.
“Today the car was better than yesterday and we were closer to the leaders. However, we still have a lot of work to do to reach those who are ahead of us in terms of performance; not just McLaren and Red Bull, but also Mercedes and Lotus.
“We are probably a second off pole and there are seven or eight teams who are all very close to one another. In one sense, that's good news because if we can improve by a few tenths, then we can make up a few places.
“Next week in Malaysia will be a trial by fire, because Sepang is a very demanding circuit, for the cars and the tyres.”