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Depression sets in at slow Ferrari team
"We will have to run a few races on the defensive and try to do the best we can," Stefano Domenicali said. "We are in a difficult situation and we must try and stay calm and work hard on all fronts."

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said Ferrari's struggles were not good for the sport, but added that the aura of the team will continue to capture the imagination of fans regardless of performance.

"It's not good, but it will look better when they get up the front again," Ecclestone said. "In those days when they were not winning, if you asked anyone in the street who won the world championship last year they would say Ferrari, and if you said which driver, they'd say Niki Lauda.

"That's how strong the Ferrari brand is - it's one of the strongest brands in the world."

A depressed Felipe Massa
"I can say our fight for the championship is ever more compromised," Felipe Massa said.

"We are losing even more performance, in addition to not having as much aerodynamic downforce as the best cars."

Raikkonen was more optimistic, saying he did not miss the KERS boost too much, and felt the team could yet rally.

"We must not give up the fight because, with the whole team working hard, we can get back into a winning position," Raikkonen said.

"It's not an easy time but our group is strong and we know what needs to be done to get out of this situation."

It’s no secret that Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro is struggling to be competitive at the moment. However, Felipe Massa put this into perspective when, at the end of the first three hours of free practice for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, he pointed out that this was really nothing serious compared to what had happened to the victims of the earthquake that hit the Abruzzo region of Italy on the night after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

A nice gesture from Ferrari to Abruzzo region of Italy
In fact both Felipe’s and Kimi’s Ferrari F60s carried decals with the message “Abruzzo in our hearts” as a gesture of support for the victims of the disaster and as publicity for a charity initiative set up to help the region. Our fellow Italian team, Scuderia Toro Rosso also carried a message of support, while Jarno Trulli wore the logo on his overalls.

On track, the Scuderia management and its drivers made no secret of the fact it is going through a difficult time: not having a diffuser similar to the ones the Paris Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday were legal on three other teams’ cars is just one contributing factor, while taking the difficult decision to run here without the KERS system that the team used at the two opening rounds, compounds the lack of performance, compared to the current front runners. Therefore, although Friday’s practice times are not always significant, the fact that Felipe and Kimi ended the day in twelfth and fourteenth places respectively is at least indicative of a less than optimum performance level.

The names at the top of the time sheet today are those we have come to expect this season. Winner of the two opening Grands Prix of the season, Jenson Button was quickest, with his team-mate Rubens Barrichello in third spot. Splitting the two Brawn GP cars is the Williams-Toyota of Nico Rosberg. Next up are the Red Bull Renault duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, the fastest of the “old style” diffuser cars, while Jarno Trulli completes the top six for Toyota .

One element that had concerned all teams before today’s sessions was the suitability of the two types of Bridgestone tire, the Super-Soft and the Medium, the same as used in Melbourne. At the Australian venue, both had proved somewhat difficult to manage, but here, on the grippier Shanghai track surface, all seems to be well on the tire front. Tomorrow afternoon’s qualifying session will no doubt give a clearer picture on this element of the package and on just how much of a challenge the Scuderia will be facing on Sunday.

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