Fernando Alonso's lead in the drivers' championship has been slashed to just four points by Sebastian Vettel after the Spaniard's first-lap retirement in Japan.
Even without that setback Ferrari appeared to be in difficulty as they struggled to match the speed of the two Red Bulls and McLarens.
But Friday practice in Yeongam suggested a much stronger showing is on the cards.
Alonso was second and third in today's [Friday] two sessions and he and team-mate Felipe Massa were consistently quick on their longer race simulation runs.
While Red Bull appear to have the edge in ultimate one-lap speed, Ferrari's pace over a race distance looks encouraging.
Rivola said: "It was a very good day, the race pace looks very strong on the soft tyre but also on the option tyre, the super soft, our race pace was okay.
"Obviously there were tyre issues in terms of degradation and blistering can be a problem here, but I think the situation was the same for everybody and with the soft tyre it looks like we are very, very competitive."
Ferrari have brought upgrades for the F2012 to Korea in an effort to re-energise Alonso's title effort, but Rivola denied there has been a change of approach at Maranello now the Spaniard's lead is so slender.
He said: "The approach does not change, the situation is still the same in trying to get the maximum from the car and pushing for the maximum in the factory.
"We don't have to overreact and panic, Fernando is still leading. The car is competitive, it is not the quickest we know, but if we had not had two crashes which were out of our control the championship would be different now with us around 40 points in front, but this thing can also happen to someone else."