McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa has backed reports that suggest Ferrari moved clearly ahead of its formula one rivals this week with the addition of a new bodywork package at the Bahrain test.
Brazil’s Felipe Massa continued his scintillating test form on Thursday by becoming the only driver during the six days at Sakhir to break the 1m30sec barrier — and it is understood that he was not even on a low-fuel run.
“We would like to be in the shape that they are in and we are going to keep working hard to achieve it,” Spaniard de la Rosa, who in 2007 helps to develop the MP4-22 car for reigning world champion Fernando Alonso, told Spain’s ‘Telecinco’ as the final pre-season test ended.
De la Rosa insisted that, despite Ferrari’s apparent three tenth per lap and straight-line speed advantage demonstrated at the final major test of the pre-season, there is still time for McLaren to catch up.
He said: “The championship is long and we are not far away from them.
“On a single lap we look pretty good but Ferrari stand out over the long runs.
“It should also be remembered that our car for Australia will look totally different to the ones we take to Malaysia and Bahrain. Our development is going to be non-stop.”
36-year-old de la Rosa, though, admitted that Ferrari’s Massa and teammate Kimi Raikkonen are favourites to win in Australia, where in less than three weeks the 2007 championship starts.
“You have to be realistic,” he said. “We are not quite as close as we want to be.”