MELBOURNE, March 16 (Reuters) - Ferrari recognised they had work to do after Fernando Alonso finished Sunday’s Australian Formula One season-opener fifth and 35 seconds behind Nico Rosberg’s winning Mercedes.
“Today, we achieved our objective in terms of reliability, but the gap we need to make up, especially to Mercedes, was clear to see,” said team principal Stefano Domenicali.
“The information we have gathered this weekend clearly points to the direction we must take and what areas need the most work...Our engineers know what the priorities are and which areas need the most immediate attention.”
Anyone expecting to see immediate sparks between Alonso and new team mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn returning to the team with which he won the 2007 championship, would have been disappointed.
Raikkonen, who started 11th after a crash in qualifying, finished eighth but both Ferrari drivers suffered reliability problems throughout the weekend.
“We cannot be happy with the positions that we finished in,” said Raikkonen, who won the race with Lotus last year. “But obviously at least we got something out. It has been a very difficult weekend.”
Raikkonen was hit in the first corner by Kamui Kobayashi’s Caterham and then lost a place in the pitstops when he had to wait for Alonso ahead of him.
“The car felt pretty OK at some points but then at some points it was a bit tricky. The only positive thing is that we ran the whole race and scored some points,” he said.
Two-time world champion Alonso was also searching for positives before the next race in Malaysia in two weeks’ time.
“We all had problems probably but at the end of the day both Ferraris crossed the line which is a good effort from the team and a good achievement,” said the 32-year-old Spaniard, a distant runner-up in the championship last year behind Red Bull’s quadruple winner Sebastian Vettel.
”On the other hand we finished 35 seconds behind leader Rosberg so this is probably too much and we need to do better in Malaysia.
”But we are Ferrari, we are a strong team. I think these guys know what they are doing. After the first race you probably have a little bit better picture of which areas you need to improve the car.
“We need to analyse, we need to take care of every detail for Malaysia and be a little bit stronger there.” (Editing by Alan Baldwin)