Despite getting both drivers into the points at Sakhir, the overwhelming sense coming out of Ferrari after the Bahrain Grand Prix was a sense of relief that the opening four races of the season were finally over, and that they could head home to Maranello to begin upgrading the F2012.

"What I can say is that what has been a very tough first run of races for us has now come to an end," said team principal Stefano Domenicali. "We managed to limit the damage."

"It went a bit better than we feared and we managed to limit the damage," echoed Fernando Alonso. "We finished the race almost a minute behind the winner, which had never happened so far this year ... We lack top speed, and when you are in a tight duel that is penalising."

"We knew this first run of races would be an uphill struggle for us," admitted technical director Pat Fry. "This result is in line with our current potential: we certainly can't be pleased."

"Clearly we have to improve the performance of the car as soon as possible to be able to fight for worthwhile positions," contributed Felipe Massa.

But amongst the doom and gloom were some definite bright spots for the team - not least the way that they're still only ten points off the lead in the drivers' championship.

"To finish this run of four races in this situation is positive," agreed Alonso. "We closed the points gap to McLaren, something which I certainly would not have believed possible if it had been suggested yesterday.

"It's been good that there hasn't been just one driver picking up the maximum points, as happened for example last year, [but] it's clear we have to make a step forward, because we cannot always count on the failings of others."

Alonso was involved in two of the main incidents in the race - his clash with Rosberg that ran him off the track, and a thrilling dash to the finish line to try and beat Force India's Paul di Resta for sixth place.

"A shame that I was missing one more straight to get past Di Resta in the end: we could have picked up a few more little points which would have been handy," he said.

"As for the incident with Rosberg, I can only say that if, instead of such a wide run-off area there had been a wall, I'm not sure I'd be here now to talk about it," said Alonso.

The incident was reviewed by the race stewards after the race, who decided that Rosberg had acted properly and no penalties would be applied. Less than thrilled with the ruling, Alonso later tweeted: "I think you are going to have fun in future races! You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track! Enjoy!"

Felipa Massa also ended up in the top ten for the first time in 2012, in ninth place by the chequered flag - a small but significant victory for the beleaguered Brazilian.

"We managed to do a good job and, for the first time this year, finish in the points," said Massa. "It's a nice result at this time, but we are well aware that it is not Ferrari's style to be happy with a ninth place.

"A shame I lost a place to Rosberg in the pit stop," he continued. "If I had managed to stay ahead of him, maybe I could have got a better result. I suffered especially with the rears and, in the end, I was not going flat out because I did not want to end up in trouble with tyre degradation."

Now that the opening flyaway races are over and done with, Ferrari returns to base at Maranello - and now has to deliver on its promise of significant upgrades before the next Grand Prix, the Spanish round at the Circuit de Catalunya in mid-May.

"I said it earlier, we have to improve the car as quickly as possible," stressed Alonso. "In Barcelona, we will have some major updates but so will the others and how good a job we will have done we will only discover on track."

"In Barcelona, everyone will bring major updates and we will have had to do have done a better job than the others because we have to make up the ground lost at the start of this championship," agreed Massa.

"Clearly we must make significant progress compared to the others in the coming ones if we want to really fight for the title," accepted Pat Fry. "We are working hard, on all fronts and we hope we will soon start to see the results of all these efforts.

"It won't be easy, because we have strong competition and they will also make progress," he pointed out. "We must do a better job than them."