Felipe Massa says Ferrari will not be satisfied with efforts to improve its car until it is right at the front of the grid - even if its race pace allows it to fight for podium finishes.
With Ferrari's 2011 challenger being more competitive in race conditions than it is in qualifying, the Maranello-based outfit is trying to work out why its single-lap pace is no match for Red Bull Racing or McLaren.
And although Massa hopes that good tyre consistency can help him and team-mate Fernando Alonso battle for the podium in China, he is aware that much more needs to be done.
"We are working very hard," said Massa. "For sure we are not in the direction we want, especially when you see the difference in qualifying.
"We are still working to improve the car but we did not improve yet - and until we are fighting the cars in front you cannot say we are satisfied."
Massa says Ferrari cannot be encouraged that it delivered its best qualifying form of the season so far in China - because of the absence from the front of the grid of Mark Webber.
"I think it is not very different from what I expected, looking at the first and second race," he said. "It is also true that we are fifth and sixth without one Red Bull Racing car, and maybe looking at the pace of Sebastian, if Mark was there he could have been in front of us.
"What I really want is what we saw in the last race - a big improvement from qualifying to the race. If we see our car is better in the race, it means we can be competitive and fight to improve our position in the start.
"I hope we can have a consistent car to use better the tyres than the other cars and maybe this can be an advantage for the race."