Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says that the team "must step up a gear" from the start of the European season in Barcelona.

14347 - Time for Ferrari to 'step up a gear' - Domenicali

At the end of pre-season testing, Ferrari admitted it would struggle to be competitive during the opening four races of the season. While the F2012 has been off the pace, Fernando Alonso has managed to pick up consistent points and even a race victory in changeable conditions in Malaysia to remain within ten points of the championship lead; closer than he has ever been before at this stage of the season when driving for Ferrari.

Despite the solid results, speaking to the official Ferrari website Domenicali has now called on the team to ensure it makes the move to the front of the grid.

"Clearly we cannot be happy with the way our season began but, after the winter tests, we knew the first four races would be very tough," Domenicali said. "We managed to limit the damage, especially in the Drivers' championship, in which Fernando Alonso is fifth, just ten points off the leader. However, it is equally clear that now we must step up a gear, right from the next race. Our engineers are well aware of this and are working day and night to give our drivers a much more competitive car than we have seen on track in these first four races."

Domenicali did praise Ferrari for staying in touch, but warned it would have a lot of work to do during the mid-season test at Mugello to make the car more competitive.

"In both races, Fernando gave his all and managed to get all the potential out of the car. The team worked well: honestly, if when setting out for Melbourne, it had been suggested we would be in this position with one of our drivers, I would have struggled to believe it. Felipe has also reacted in a positive fashion to the initial difficulties and I am sure the fact he has finally managed to end his scoreless run in terms of points will give him confidence for the forthcoming races.

"The coming days will be very important, during which the primary objective will be to push as hard as possible on the development of the car: next week we have three days of testing at Mugello, but it's not definite that all the updates planned for Barcelona will be seen then. We must try and make the most of every minute available to us to increase the performance of the F2012."

Domenicali also insisted that the team was not looking for a quick fix, but instead hoping to address all of the weak points within Ferrari in order to be stronger long-term.

"We are intensifying the process of changing our working procedures in all areas and, at the same time, we are strengthening our efforts in areas where we are weakest, such as aerodynamics. It's a long term project and one that President Montezemolo is studying at first hand and it is vital to the future of the Scuderia. Formula 1 has changed so much these past few years and we have not always been up to speed with these changes. In this area too we need to step up a gear."