Despite earning fourth place in Malaysia after Fernando Alonso came home in fourth place behind Sebastian Vettel at Sepang, Ferrari admit they can't be happy with a second consecutive somewhat lacklustre result at the start of the 2014 F1 world championship.

"We cannot be happy with today's result," conceded Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali. "Even if there have been improvements on the performance front, the gap to Mercedes is still significant and that should motivate the whole team, at the track, but especially back in Maranello, to improve the car in every area."

Domenicali insisted that it was by no means time for panic stations, but agreed that the team had to get moving if it was going to avoid dropping too far behind its main rivals in the coming weeks and months.

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"For sure we need to correct the errors - power delivery, traction, efficiency of the car, set-up wise, balance-wise - so we need to improve at all levels," he said. "With this regulation, if you improve then the gaps will shorten up very quickly but you need to work out all the errors. That's what I can see from my side.

"I think for sure what we have seen is not easy to solve but what I have asked from my engineers is that they show they know what they have to do to put in place a plan to cut the gap that so far is there, because it's pretty big," he added, insisting that he "didn't want to fingerpoint any one of our engineers or of our groups" for the current situation.

Domenicali added that in his view it was Mercedes' dominating pace that was distorting the picture and that otherwise Ferrari was already comparing comparing favourably with their other rivals at the front of the field.

"I don't think that the gap to Red Bull was all that big to be honest. Today we were suffering from the hard tyres - in this heat we're not able to generate the traction really as the cars wanted," he said. "I think the Mercedes team have a big gap, but with Red Bull and the others I'm not so sure, we are more or less close to that field but we need to aim to be on top.

According to the statistics, Ferrari-powered cars appear to be the slowest of each of the three distinct performance groups on the grid - Ferrari at the front, Sauber in the midfield and Marussia at the back of the grid. However Domenicali didn't want to get into details over whether this might indicate a wider issue with the Ferrari Power Unit.

"I cannot really answer to the things on the other cars because honestly I don't know what is the vehicle side of the performance that can be attributed to the performance of a team," he pointed out.

"I need to make sure that we deliver to that the best Power Unit that we can, so it would be wrong to say that 'Okay it's our fault,' or it would be wrong for myself to say it is their fault. I cannot judge that. To be sure, the power unit that we have is the same that we supply to our customers.

"We know what areas we need to work on and we must try and do that as quickly as possible," Domenicali summarised. "The championship has only just begun and we know just how quickly things can change in F1."