Ferrari has singled out improved qualifying pace as a priority as it bids to make up lost ground in the championship battle.
Although the new F138 has proved to have strong race pace, which helped Fernando Alonso triumph in China, the team has not been able to deliver a pole position so far this season.
Ferrari's deputy chief designer Simone Resta thinks that it needs to do much better on Saturdays, especially because it is becoming increasingly clear that starting near the front gives drivers a better opportunity to run in clear air and look after their tires.
"This year I think we have shown a reasonable race pace, and we closed the gap in qualifying [compared to 2012], but we still need to work on that – and it is a priority for us," said Resta, when asked if qualifying form still matters with the new higher-degrading tires.
"I think learning the tires and also how to treat them is an important factor in that, and concentrating your setup more to qualifying or more to the race is another factor. But I think for us, it is a priority to try and recover performance in qualifying."
Ferrari has had a difficult start to 2013, with the team not making the most of the opportunities given to it by the competitiveness of the new car. In Malaysia, Fernando Alonso crashed out after the team risked keeping him out on track with a damaged front wing, while in Bahrain last weekend his hopes of a podium finish were wrecked by a DRS failure.
Alonso is currently fourth in the championship standings, 30 points adrift of leader Sebastian Vettel. Felipe Massa is 17 points further back.
HOW THE QUALIFYING GAP COMPARES
Throughout last season, Ferrari made no secret of the fact that its biggest area of improvement needed to be in delivering more qualifying speed, as it was clear Alonso and Massa did not have the machinery to fight regularly for pole position.
Here is the gap between pole position and the quickest Ferrari driver for 2012's races – and how they compare to this season.
AUSTRALIA 1.025s *
BAHRAIN 0.194s *
BRITAIN pole position
GERMANY pole position
ABU DHABI 0.952s
* If team failed to make it through to Q3, or did not complete a lap in Q3, the comparison is with best Q2 time.