Ferrari big boss Sergio Marchionne says he was never under any illusion about the challenge faced by the Maranello based team in 2015, to match and try and usurp Mercedes at the summit of the F1 pecking order with the added burden of sorting out a fundamentally flawed car.
Marchionne, who only took over from Luca di Montezemolo late last year, said Ferrari’s will to improve in 2015 is not diminished, “We’re spending a lot of time to make sure we continue to remedy the problems that we knew were inherent in this car.”
He insists what happened in Canada was no real surprise, “We always knew, and I had a long discussion with our team about this, that despite knowing the gap to Mercedes, they also would not stand still.”
“And that’s what we saw here,” added Marchionne, whose Montreal visit was his first appearance in a grand prix paddock as Ferrari president.
Sebastian Vettel’s breakthrough victory for Ferrari came early this season, raising hopes the resurgent team might be ready to challenge Mercedes’ utter dominance.
But five races have now passed without a follow-up Ferrari victory, even in Canada last weekend, where the Maranello team debuted an updated engine, Mercedes scored another emphatic one-two in Montreal.
“Psychologically, I guess it’s good that when a competitor expects more performance, you are able to stay on top,” said that team’s chief Toto Wolff.
At the same time, Mercedes insists that even though it was able to fend off the Ferrari challenge in Canada, the red camp may not have demonstrated its full potential at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Indeed, Vettel started from the back of the grid following technical problems and a penalty, while Kimi Raikkonen was heading for a podium when he spun.
So championship leader Lewis Hamilton rejects the notion that the 2015 title battle is definitely now a two-horse race with his teammate Nico Rosberg.
“I think it’s pretty much impossible for you to come to that conclusion,” said Hamilton. “Sebastian wasn’t there (in the Canada race) and obviously Sebastian has generally been the quicker of the two so far this season so we didn’t really get to see Ferrari’s true pace.”
Wolff agrees, “On Friday we noticed this great step they (Ferrari) have made, so maybe the problems they had on Saturday meant they were not able to show their true potential after that. I think we will see that (potential) in Austria,” predicted the Silver Arrows boss.
Ferrari have scored 180 points so far this year in the F1 constructors’ title race and trail Mercedes by 105 points.