Ferrari is designing a key upgrade for its turbo unit, according to German reports.
The major daily Bild, and the specialist Auto Motor und Sport, say the turbo fix is due in May.
And the broadcaster RTL says that until then, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will be running their current turbos – whose design was fundamentally changed for 2016 – at reduced power.
“Experts believe it is costing them up to half a second per lap” at the moment, RTL said.
Still, there is optimism. John Elkann, the Fiat Chrysler chairman, said on Friday: “Now that the gap to Mercedes is narrowing, I can’t wait for us to beat them on the track.”
He added that Vettel and Raikkonen remain “in good spirits”.
Vettel, in Shanghai, agreed: “I’m sure that this year we can fight with Mercedes.”