Ferrari admit they are off pace heading into season-opener in Australia

Ferrari's new F2012, like many new cars for the forthcoming season, features a dramatic steep-nosed design.

Story highlights

  • Ferrari are not expecting to challenge for a podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix
  • The Italian team had a disappointing 2011 and have under-performed in testing
  • Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso claimed the team's only win of last season
  • Spain's Alonso and Brazilian Felipe Massa have been retained for the new season

Ferrari's technical chief has talked down their chances of success in the opening grand prix of the 2012 season in Australia after disappointing performances in preseason testing.

The famous Italian marque is the most successful team in Formula One history, winning 16 constructors' titles and 15 drivers' championship during 51 years in the elite division of motorsport.

But Pat Fry has warned that Ferrari is facing an uphill battle this season to add to those honors.

"In the hunt for the podium in Melbourne? At the moment I'd say no," Fry told Ferrari's official website at the end of the final round of testing in Barcelona.

"We are disappointed with the performance level seen at these tests and I think we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Fry said it was difficult to compare the performance of Ferrari's drivers, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and Brazil's Felipe Massa, to other teams without knowing the set ups of other cars.

"In testing, you can only make assumptions regarding what fuel loads the other cars are running," he said.

"It will only be in Melbourne that we will get a clear answer as to whether we have to be very disappointed or just a little, how far we really are off the front runners and consequently how much ground we have to make up to get there."

Fry also revealed that a recent decision Ferrari made to change their exhaust, aimed at boosting the car's downforce, has had an adverse effect on the F2012's performance.

"Clearly the decision relating to the exhausts that we took last week meant we took a few steps backwards in terms of development.

"How much? Difficult to say right now. We have been working on the current configuration for really just two weeks. We found a bit of performance but there's no doubt that the original solution is the one that gives the most."

Ferrari finished third in last season's constructors' standings, 275 points behind back-to-back champions Red Bull.

The Maranello-based team won just one race last year, with Spain's Alonso taking the checkered flag at July's British Grand Prix.

The season-opening race takes places at Albert Park on March 18.