Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted to being mystified after Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen were beaten into second and third places by Lewis Hamilton's McLaren in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Italian, in his first year at the head of the Prancing Horse, said that there was a lot to understand before the team could head confidently into the final round of the world championship at Interlagos, especially with Massa now seven points behind Hamilton in the title race, and needing to repeat his 2006 race win on home soil if he is to stand any chance of pipping the Briton.

Neither Massa or Raikkonen, who started on the front row, could live with Hamilton in Shanghai, the Briton pulling out enough of a gap on the two F2008s to be able to throttle back in the closing stages and still win by nearly 15 seconds.

"The thing that we need to understand, going to Brazil, is why and how this was possible, especially considering that, in Singapore and in Fuji, we were really fast, both in terms of quick laps and race pace," Domenicali revealed, "For sure, this race was the worst, from the performance side, that we have had this year in these conditions, together with Germany.

"The only point in common was that it was the same kind of tyres, so we need to understand if that was the problem, but I don't think so. Sure, on the one hand, we were complaining that this weekend we didn't have enough grip to be competitive, but also we didn't have the car handling in the first sector.

"We cannot be in Brazil fighting - as we said at the beginning of the season - for the titles in the condition where our car is less competitive in these conditions, with such a big gap to our main competitors."

In common with other comments emanating from the Maranello camp, Domenicali paid tribute to the job that McLaren and Hamilton did in Shanghai, admitting that Ferrari had been beaten by the better team on the day.

"This weekend, our main competitors were faster than us," he conceded, "They maybe did a better job but, in any case, they were faster, for sure.

"We have seen that, right from Friday, they had better pace and better quick laps, [but] we saw today that they were not doing something special. They were simply much faster than us and this is the reason why I have to say that, if you consider what we could achieve in these conditions, we achieved the maximum.

"Honestly, today, Lewis was in another league, he was driving perfectly, fast, consistent - we couldn't even think of attacking him. In our briefing [on race] morning, we said that we had to try to attack Lewis, above all at the beginning of the race, to see how the situation was - but we really couldn't do so because he was too fast."

Whether the flattery is designed to lull the Woking squad into a false sense of security ahead of the Sao Paolo showdown, Domenicali refused to concede that McLaren has the faster car.

"One week ago, that was not the case," he pointed out, referring to the Japanese GP at Fuji, "Two races ago, it was not the case, so we need to understand why there was this kind of change on the performance side.

"We need to make a careful analysis to understand exactly the reason why we lost performance. This weekend, we were slower, the others were more or less consistent with their pace or their expected pace, so we were the ones that were not so strong. I don't believe that, in one week, all the others have made a step which we haven't, so it's something connected to our performance.

"This is why we need to work hard because we are heading into the last race of the season and we need to make sure that we do everything in order to make sure we have a good car for the last grand prix."

Domenicali said that, despite the disappointment of Shanghai and knowing that everything rested on the remaining race at Interlagos where the team's chances are really in the hands of others, there would be no change in approach at Maranello.

"I think that the approach cannot change because, on the one hand, our destiny is not in our hands," he confirmed, "To win the title with Felipe, we need to win, first of all, and we need to see a not really good race from Hamilton.

"On the constructors' side, the situation is different because we know that we have this [eleven-point] margin which is not enough because you never know what can happen. You saw [in China] that, once again, [Heikki] Kovalainen had a problem. He may have another puncture at the wrong moment, so it's still open, but this can happen to all the four drivers that can influence the result of drivers' and team's championships.

"The only thing we can do is try to work very hard to try to understand the performance of the car. We don't need to panic because, as I said, only a week ago it was different, but to make sure that we working well, with the right concentration."

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