Ferrari must 'step up a gear' from the next race in Spain if it is to turn itself into a genuine contender for the Formula 1 world championship this year.
That is the view of team principal Stefano Domenicali who thinks that an immediate leap forward in performance is now essential even though Fernando Alonso is just 10 points off the lead of the drivers' championship.
"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," he told Ferrari's official website.
"We managed to limit the damage, especially in the drivers' championship, in which Fernando Alonso is fifth, just 10 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."
Ferrari is set to bring some major upgrades to its F2012 for both next week's test at Mugello, and the Spanish Grand Prix which it hopes will allow it to start challenging much nearer the front of the grid.
Domenicali said that team's development programme was still not finalised though, and it was possible that not all the new parts would be ready for Mugello.
"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," he said. "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 suggested that a great deal of effort at Ferrari was being made on the team's infrastructure to address weaknesses at the outfit.
"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," he said.
"It's a long term project and one that president [Luca di] 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."