Despite Felipe Massa making it three Ferrari wins from the opening four races of 2007 in Barcelona last weekend, the Scuderia insists much work remains to be done if the Prancing Horse is to regain the crown it last held in 2004.

Although Massa ultimately prevailed by a comfortable seven seconds ahead of McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in the Spanish Grand Prix - the Brazilian notching up his second victory in succession as he claws his way back into the title fight - his lead was at one stage almost double that, and a fiery fuel spillage as he left the pits following his first stop could so easily have torpedoed his chances.

"I think our level of performance, particularly in terms of pace during the race, was very good," underlined Ferrari technical director Mario Almondo. "We are satisfied about that, but much less satisfied about the level of reliability we have had up till now and we have to concentrate on that.

"The reason [the fuel spillage] happened is something we still have to check. It's something that sometimes happens. How much fuel went out? A very few drops; you can see after a few metres the fire disappeared. We didn't notice anything particularly problematic during this operation, but of course we have to go through it very carefully."

Almondo also defended his driver's role in the first corner clash that saw Fernando Alonso go skating across the grass and left the Spaniard seething after the race.

"Of course, it is never nice for any of us to be criticised," he said, "but I think the most appropriate explanation is that Massa reacted as a driver. Sometimes you can have a first turn that is in your favour as it was in this case, while other times if you do not think in a perfect way, the result is that you are behind and not in front."

Reinforcing Maranello's quest for reliability was team-mate Kimi Raikkonen's early departure from the fray, due to electrical woes on lap ten. The Finn's retirement has left Ferrari nine points adrift of rival McLaren in the manufacturers' standings.

"I really think we could have had two Ferrari drivers on the podium without a problem," stated head of track operations Luca Baldisserri. "Unfortunately with Kimi we had a DNF, so we were not able to give him a car which could reflect his capabilities. We were, however, all really happy with the weekend he had."

Almondo also paid tribute to the advice and presence of Michael Schumacher, the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion who joined the team in Spain and still contributes regularly to the progress of both the squad and its drivers.

"To have Michael here - a talented driver like him with his huge experience - is always very useful," he asserted. "He was with us, giving us his suggestions throughout the weekend. Whenever we talked and whatever subject we were talking about, he was consistently able to give us a very interesting point-of-view.

"We are continuously going through the methodology of improving the performance of our drivers. We did that with both Kimi and Felipe and they are keen to follow our methodology of exploring the margin of improvement they have, but it's not just a matter of improving their driving style.

"That is something that is combined with the characteristics of the car, the package and the tyres from race-to-race, and getting experience with this new car and new type of tyres. We are doing a decent job but we also know we could do it better, and we are planning some action in order to improve still more."

 

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