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Domenicali mystified by Ferrari's lack of pace in China 20 Oct 2008

Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari Manager of F1 Operations.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 13 September 2008 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari on the grid 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted he is at a loss to explain why Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen were unable to live with the speed of Lewis Hamilton and McLaren in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Once polesitter Hamilton took the lead at the start in Shanghai, he never looked like being troubled by the red cars and Massa and Raikkonen finished a distant second and third, 15 seconds behind the championship leader.

"This race was the worst, from the performance side, that have had this year in these conditions, together with Germany,” said Domenicali. “The only point in common was that it was the same kind of tyres and we need to understand if that was the problem, but I don't think so.

"Lewis was in another league, he was driving perfectly, fast, consistent and we couldn't even think of attacking him. In our briefing 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."

With just once race of the 2008 season left, Domenicali knows Ferrari must find the answers, and fast, if Massa is to have any chance of stealing the drivers’ crown from Hamilton in Sao Paulo in two weeks’ time.

"The thing that we need to understand, going to Brazil, is why and how this (lack of pace) was possible, considering that in Singapore and in Fuji we were really fast, both in terms of quick laps and race pace," he added.

"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."

With an 11-point advantage over McLaren, Ferrari remain strong favourites for the constructors’ title. However, with Massa trailing Hamilton by seven points in the driver standings, Domenicali conceded it will now take something special for the team to do the double in Brazil, even though he believes McLaren's car is not intrinsically faster.

"One week ago that was not the case. Two races ago, it was not the case,” he said. “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 to be honest. I don't believe that in one week (since Fuji) all the others have made a step which we haven't, so it's something connected to our performance.”

To illustrate the point, Shanghai was the first race since July's German Grand Prix in which the fastest lap was not set by a Ferrari.