MELBOURNE: Ferrari vowed to fight back after a chastening season-opening Australian Grand Prix failure with Lewis Hamilton and fierce rivals McLaren ruling the roost here yesterday.
The Italian giants endured a disastrous start to their title defence with world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa both failing to finish the 58-lap race in intense heat.
Raikkonen only earned one point for the Prancing Horse team when former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello was stripped of his sixth placing for running a red light in leaving the pit lane in his Honda.
It was a far cry for Raikkonen and Ferrari who powered to victory in last year's Melbourne race on the way to overhauling Hamilton to win the drivers' title by just one point.
But Ferrari were pulling out all stops to ensure that the Melbourne fiasco was only a glitch in their overall campaign.
“This has definitely been a very difficult start to the season and we have got off on the wrong foot,” team sporting director Stefano Domenicali said.
“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 cars and they are being sent immediately to Maranello (team headquarters in Italy) for analysis.
“We have to roll up our sleeves and react, as we know we can.”
Ferrari performed strongly in pre-season testing and were expected to dominate the opening race.
Ferrari had won six of the previous nine Australian GPs, while Raikkonen had posted three of the fastest laps in the race driving previously for McLaren in an era that was dominated by Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.
But it just didn't happen for the Italian aristocrats this weekend.
Raikkonen, who had to weave his way through from 15th off the grid, came off worse in a duel with McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen on the 30th lap and later spun off after clipping a grass verge in another overtaking manoeuvre.
The 'Iceman's' race ended five laps from home when his car came to a stop at the top of the pit lane.
Massa was never out of strife, knocking David Coulthard's Red Bull out of the race before later coming to a halt at mid-distance.
“It's really disappointing not to finish the race, but at least the point is better than nothing,” Raikkonen said.
“I had an engine problem, the reason for which now needs to be analysed.
“I had good pace when I found a free track ahead of me, but maybe I was a bit too optimistic trying to pass Kovalainen.
“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.
“We have to put everything in place and then we will be really competitive.” – AFP