Whilst it was never expecting to repeat its Malaysian Grand Prix
was still disappointed to come away from Shanghai International Circuit
with just two points to add to its world championship tally.
Again, it was Fernando Alonso
who produced for the Scuderia but, after his Sepang heroics, the Spaniard could only finish where he started, claiming ninth place in a race where just one driver, Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, retired. Team-mate Felipe Massa
was classified 13th, one place lower than he was after qualifying, after both drivers spent most of the afternoon mired in traffic, and team principal Stefano Domenicali was quick to point to the team's problems.
“There's no point denying we are disappointed," he said, "We had the potential to get a better result than this, but we did not manage it. The lack of top speed, one of the weak points of this F2012, prevented Fernando, especially, from making the most of a strategy, which at one point, had put him in a situation where he could fight for a place in the top five.
"Felipe went for a two-stopper, counting on others having higher tyre degradation, but this only turned out to be the case for a few cars. It was quite an unusual race, as
indeed was qualifying, which still delivered some surprises compared to what was being predicted and I think it is worth analysing the way it went in depth to try and understand how best to tackle the next round."
With the Bahrain Grand Prix
confirmed by the FIA at the start of the Shanghai weekend, there is just a week between races, and Domenicali knows that things aren't likely to change for the better in such a short time.
"In Bahrain, we will again have to be racing on the defensive, but that doesn't mean we will go there in a resigned state of mind," he insisted, "We have seen three different winners in three races, with performance levels of some cars changing very significantly from race to race. At this stage, we must do the maximum on track and exploit every opportunity, but the most important work is that done in Maranello, especially on the aerodynamic development. We need to accelerate the introduction of updates and change gear. This is very long and unpredictable championship, where things can change very quickly.”
Technical director Pat Fry, who started the Chinese weekend by suggesting that the entire working methodology at Maranello needed to be overhauled, confirmed that the third round of the season had been a frustrating affair.
"Traffic was the decisive factor in this race, which was easily predictable, given where our cars were on the grid," he admitted, "We split the strategies, also in light of the fact that with Felipe, we could choose which type of tyre he could start on.
"Seeing where we came out of the third pit-stop with Fernando – alongside Hamilton - I think the choice was the right one, but we will analyse the way the race played out carefully to understand if we could have done anything differently.
"Clearly, today, we paid a very heavy price for the lack of a good top speed on a track like this. The result does not represent the car's true potential in race configuration, but we have to accept it. We lack performance, we know it, but there is no point in beating ourselves up over it: rather, we need to concentrate all our efforts on improving car performance. Next week in Bahrain we won't have any particularly significant updates, so we cannot expect a miracle. Instead, we must try and squeeze the maximum out of what we have to work with...."