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Ferrari pushing hard to fix car but no magic wand

By Abhishek Takle

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Ferrari are working flat out to fix their new car but have no magic wand to improve performance for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, team principal Stefano Domenicali said on Friday.

Formula One's most successful team made a disappointing start to the season in Australia last weekend and are under pressure to sort out their problems.

"We have identified issues on the car and we are working at home to solve it," he said after the first day of practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

"At the moment we need to maximize what we're doing on the track and that's it.

"In the race everything can happen, so we need to be focused then. And of course with no magic stick you can't do anything," added the Italian.

Ferrari endured a tough campaign last year with just one win at Silverstone. They had hoped a technical shake up and radical redesign of their car would restore their fortunes but the performance has been missing.

Neither Fernando Alonso nor Felipe Massa made it into the final session of qualifying at Melbourne and while the Spaniard ended up fifth, Brazilian Massa failed to finish.

Alonso was 15th and sixth in Friday's two sessions while Massa was 13th and 16th.

"For sure, I'm disappointed by the performance of the car, no doubt," said Domenicali, who flew back to Maranello after Melbourne.

"I am confident that our engineers will solve the issues we have as quickly as possible because in such a close field a little step makes a difference, and in such a close battle, when you are in a difficult moment, you need to score points because everything can happen."

Massa, whose place at the team is increasingly called into question, has been given a different chassis from Melbourne and Domenicali hoped that would help the 30-year-old.

"The problems with the car are what I said on Sunday evening after the race in Melbourne, so maybe traction in slow speed corners and speed. These are the two fundamental issues which we need to solve," said the team boss.

Massa declared the new chassis an improvement despite being more than a second slower than Alonso in second practice after running a different program compared to the Spaniard.

"In the afternoon we went completely to the wrong side trying different things... and tomorrow I hope we can be where we can be, where we have to be," Massa said.

(Editing by Alan Baldwin)