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Ferrari duo endures torrid time

FORMULA One champion Ferrari experienced its worst start to a season in 17 years when a risky gamble backfired at yesterday's Australian Grand Prix.

The Italian team was left searching for answers after failing to score a single point in the opening race of the championship for the first time since the South African Grand Prix in 1992.

Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, crashed into a wall three laps from the end while his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa, last year's championship runner-up to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, retired 13 laps from the finish with a broken front wing.

"This was definitely not a start worthy of Ferrari," team boss Stefano Domenicali said. "To sum up, it was a day to forget."

Ferrari knew its chances of winning the race were a forlorn hope long before yesterday so decided to pin its hopes on strategy rather than outright speed.

Both drivers started the race on soft tires in the hope that they would gain an early advantage over their rivals using harder compounds, which take longer to heat up. But the plan blew up when their softer tires started to wear after just five laps and, when they came into the pits early to change, they got stuck behind the safety car.

"I got off to a great start but the soft tires were a problem," Massa said.

"We had to come in much earlier than we were supposed to ... and then it completely destroyed my strategy when the safety car came out straight away.

"It was a very bad to start the season."


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