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Ferrari rue dismal Melbourne weekend 16 Mar 2008

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008 spins.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the grid.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008 The side of the car of Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 16 March 2008

Ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari had looked strong enough to lead many to suspect they would dominate the Melbourne race in much the same way as they did last season. The Italian team, however, leave Albert Park on Sunday with just one solitary point, after both Felipe Massa and world champion Kimi Raikkonen exited the Australian race prematurely with engine trouble.

“There's not much to say about a disastrous start to the season,” said sporting director Luca Baldisserri. “We did not work well on any level and this is the consequence of that. We know how important reliability is and we were severely lacking on this front. It is absolutely ages since we have seen two engine failures in a race. We have to look at every detail of this weekend to understand what went wrong and how we can improve.”

The squad’s struggles started during Saturday's qualifying when Raikkonen, who clinched a convincing pole in 2007, was hamstrung by an electronic fuel pump problem on his F2008. Massa, meanwhile, only managed to clinch fourth on the grid after facing stiff competition from the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen and the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica.

Although Massa and Raikkonen both had enough pace to fight their way up the field during the race, the duo’s fraught efforts - which included driver errors and off-track moments for both - eventually came to nought with both of their F2008’s succumbing to as yet undiagnosed engine strife. And in the end it was only the disqualification of Honda’s Rubens Barrichello that saved Ferrari’s blushes with Raikkonen scoring one point for eighth place, despite the Finn's DNF.

“It's really disappointing not to finish the race, but at least the point is better than nothing,” explained Raikkonen. “I had an engine problem, the reason for which now needs to be analysed. This result is obviously not the best start to the season but it is a very long one and we are well aware that we are capable of recovering from far worse situations than this.”

Ferrari’s general director Stefano Domenicali added: “This has definitely been a very difficult start to the season and we have got off on the wrong foot. However, we should not react in an over emotional way to this. We weren't a phenomenon before and we're not carthorses now. We have to work out exactly what happened to the engines on both F2008s and they are being sent immediately to Maranello for analysis. The whole team has not performed to our usual standard. We have to roll our sleeves up and react, as we know we can.”

With McLaren scoring 14 points at the Australian race, courtesy of race winner Hamilton and fifth-placed Kovalainen, Ferrari are now left with a substantial deficit ahead of next weekend’s Malaysian event.