Ferrari is not giving up on trying to close the gap to Mercedes in their battle for the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship.
That is the claim of bosses Maurizio Arrivabene and Sergio Marchionne, after yet another easy defeat at the hands of dominant Mercedes in Austria.
Ferrari had travelled with high hopes to Canada recently with a token-upgraded engine, but after Austria it is clear Mercedes is still well out in front.
“Most impressive were the first laps of the race,” said Sebastian Vettel after Austria. “They were three to five tenths of a second better than us.”
But in Friday practice, Ferrari had appeared a match for Mercedes, or even better, particularly in the all-important ‘long runs’.
“The explanation is simple,” said Arrivabene. “Mercedes always runs with more fuel on Fridays. I have told our engineers to now do the same, because only that way will we really know where we stand.”
But the Italian insisted that, unlike in previous years, Ferrari will not abandon the current season in order to focus exclusively on the next.
“We have already started work on the 2016 car,” said Arrivabene, “but at the same time we need to intensify the work on the current car.
“We set ourselves the goal of winning three races this year and I see no reason to change. We do not want to catch Mercedes in 2020 but as soon as possible, hopefully by the end of 2015.”
The Italian press, however, is not confident. La Gazzetta dello Sport said Austria was a “black day” for the red-colour team.
“It’s like watching the bad movie of 2014 over again,” it said, while Corriere dello Sport said Mercedes appears “unassailable” in 2015.
But president Marchionne has set his sights on Monza, declaring in Austria: “I think the car is getting better. Unfortunately we started late, so we are trying to regain lost ground, but I have the idea that in Monza we will be in a much stronger position.”
Indeed, Speed Week reports that Ferrari is planning to deploy the last of its engine performance ‘tokens’ first in Monza, and then in Austin in October.
The latter upgrade could mean the drivers will incur grid penalties for exceeding their allocations of four ‘power units’ each for the entire season.