ROME, April 19, 2011 (AFP) - Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has called on his team to improve their qualifying performance if they are to start challenging for victories this season.
Massa finished sixth, one place ahead of his teammate Fernando Alonso, in the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, following on from seventh and fifth places in the opening two races in Malaysia and Australia.
But if the Italian manufacturer are to challenge Red Bull and McLaren this season, it is on Saturday qualifying that they need to take a step forward, says the Brazilian. "For sure, we need to qualify better so we can start further forward on the
grid which helps in the race, even with the talk of grid position being less important this year," Massa said in his official diary on the Ferrari website.
"In China actually my grid position, sixth, was not too bad and then I gained one place immediately after the start which moved me up to fifth. "Most importantly though, if you look at the pace of the car, it was good enough to allow us to fight with the leaders.
"That meant I had a very interesting race, being able to make up several places because effectively, the car we had in the race was completely different to the one we had the day before in qualifying. "It definitely worked well, because I even led the race for a short while at one point and I held a genuine second place for quite some time.
"Unfortunately, those who were three stopping for tyre changes caught us up much faster than we had expected in the closing stages and, on tyres that were in much better shape than mine, they were able to get past."
Massa had criticised Ferrari's two pit-stop strategy immediately after the race in China, but in his diary he denied that his team had got it wrong, saying instead his main problem had been the poorer performance of the hard
He added: "We are always learning at this stage of the season and we should analyse everything very carefully to see if we should adopt a different approach, maybe modify our qualifying strategy to have some fresher tyres for
"But after three Grands Prix it is still too early to say what is the best way to work with all these new rules, because in China at the weekend, you saw many different combinations of strategies and tyre useage and many of them
seemed to work well.
"Nothing is one hundred percent clear yet and at Ferrari, we have to work out what is best for our car. "It is possible that we could see very different strategies in the next few races, depending on the characteristics of the circuits."