Fernando Alonso insists it is too early to write Ferrari's season off despite its difficult time in testing, but admits the team needs to work hard to understand its new car.
Ferrari's technical chief Pat Fry said at the end of winter testing on Sunday that he did not believe the team was competitive enough for podium finishes at present. Addressing the staff at the Maranello factory today, Alonso acknowledged that Ferrari was in a difficult position, but said predictions of a terrible season ahead were unfounded.
"The new single-seater has some characteristics which are difficult to understand and maybe we're not where we want to be yet," he said. "But we've all lived through many Formula 1 seasons and we all know very well that until we're in Australia we don't really know where we stand regarding to the others.
"There's lots of talk and many ideas, but nobody knows the truth. For example, yesterday Red Bull – considered by many to be the frontrunner – had only a few laps and the last time on the sheet. If something similar had happened to us, hell would have broken loose, but here nobody really noticed it.
"More than ever we have to give it our all to improve, from the one who's responsible for the rear-view mirror to the one who's responsible for the piston. We're united and we're giving it our all, because we all want the same."
Team boss Stefano Domenicali agreed that Ferrari had ground to make up, but felt it was too soon to be downcast.
"It's obvious that we can't be happy with how the test went considering our goals, but let's not forget that the championship still has to start," he said. "This is just the starting point and we have a very long season ahead of us. We know that there are some areas where we have to work a lot, regarding reliability and performance, but I'm expecting some great responses from you all and wish to show who we are."
Alonso also underlined that testing times were often deceptive.
"I just want to remind you of an episode two years ago: at the last test in Barcelona we were fifth behind Red Bull, McLaren, Sauber and Force India and two weeks later we gained a one-two win in Bahrain," he said. "What counts is not to be first in the first race, but in November, at the end of the championship."