Ferrari expect tough battle

One-two finish in Bahrain - but 'very long' season ahead

Despite seeing his team claim victories in both of the last two grands prix, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali reckons they are in for a "tough championship" this season.

With World Champion Kimi Raikkonen having claimed victory in Malaysia, team-mate Felipe Massa then led the Finn home on Sunday for a Ferrari one-two in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The emphatic result moved the Scuderia up to second place in the Constructors' Championship, one point behind BMW-Sauber, with McLaren a further point behind in third place.

The Swiss-German team have joined both Ferrari and McLaren at the front of the field this season, with drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica each taking podium finishes in the opening three races.

And, according to Domenicali, it will be the ability of each team to develop their car over the course of the 18-race season that will ultimately decide who will take the spoils.

"As I've always said, since the beginning, I was expecting a tough championship this year, with BMW that had already shown, during testing, that it was better than last year, for sure," Domenicali said.

"I always said that and that confirms what I always thought since the beginning: that it would be a very long championship, very long, it is a classification than is closer to soccer than an F1 season, and we are three teams covered by two points.

"That shows that we cannot lose an important step because the others can take more important points, so it will be important to keep up the pace of reliability.

"But we don't have to forget that we have to keep on developing our car to the maximum, because the others will not sleep, they will be back again very strong in Spain."

Stronger performance

Speaking of which, Domenicali said he expected that McLaren, who only picked up four points in Bahrain thanks to Heikki Kovalainen's fifth place - Lewis Hamilton finishing only 13th - will put in a stronger performance in next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

He continued: "I'm expecting McLaren to be back again and up to standard in Barcelona, so what we have to do is work very hard and keep the feet on the ground, concentrate and that's the way we used to do: reply on the track.

"Right now I have to say that we expect both McLaren and BMW because we don't have to over-react to anything. As always, from the pragmatic point of view, we need to consider the points," the team boss said.

"The points show that BMW is in front of us in the Constructors' Championship, and in the Drivers' Championship they are behind Kimi so they are all there, but I am expecting McLaren to be back again on the pace very soon."

Raikkonen has a three-point lead over Heidfeld in the Drivers' Championship, with Hamilton now a further two points adrift in third alongside Kubica and Kovalainen.