Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali refuses to get carried away by the success the Scuderia achieved in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, admitting that it needs to improve to remain a championship contender.
Speaking in a video posted on the official Ferrari website, Domenicali admitted that, while Fernando Alonso's victory in Shanghai was a major boost to the team, it was only a stepping stone towards success at the end of the season, and insisted that there was still a lot of work to be done between now and Interlagos.
“As always, what is important is to look ahead,” he maintained, “We can look at [China] as a starting point because we have won a race but, in order to achieve our goals, we must win many more.
“What gave us the most pleasure was seeing a car that was really strong. That is the basis on which we must continue to grow, and to keep bringing developments. In a championship that is so long, and with so many strong drivers and teams, this [victory] gives us hope, but nothing more.”
With Alonso demonstrating that the new F138 could be kind to both prime and option tyre compounds in race conditions, Domenicali revealed that qualifying would be one of the first areas to be looked at back in Maranello.
While Felipe Massa qualified on the front row in Malaysia, his achievement was largely due to changeable track conditions, and Ferrari accepts that others remain favourite for pole position.
“We have to be careful as things can easily change from race to race,” Domenicali reasoned, “However, qualifying is the most important area that we must work on. If we can keep such a strong race pace, if we can start in the front rows, then it clearly becomes easier. We must continue to get the most out of our starts and manage our tyres well.
“If we can start at the front and manage the tyres, then we won't have to do as much work in the early laps dealing with whoever is ahead of us.”
Even though Alonso retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix, he remains third in the standings, just nine points adrift of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, and Domenicali knows that reliability will be the key to challenging for overall success, just as it was last year.
“There are many rivals but we mustn't forget that, despite our problems early last year, we were still able to bring home a lot of points and we secured important podiums in difficult circumstances,” he reflected, “The incentive I'd like to keep up is making sure that we collect same amount of points as this time last year – if not more. Then we must up our pace again in the second part of the year...."