With pressure to perform heavy on his shoulders, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has admitted that the current all-conquering Mercedes team is the best outfit the sport has seen in the past decade.
Speaking during a press conference in Shanghai the Ferrari team chief said, “I can say the Mercedes team of this year is the strongest one that I saw in the last ten years because it’s quite a lot of years that I’m around.”
“I mean, to be able to win against them, you have to work and be better than them. So, we are doing all our best to have good results,” explained Arrivabene.
After two grands prix the Reds already trail the Silver Arrows by 50 points in the constructors’ championship while drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel lie fourth and sixth respectively in the drivers’championship standings.
The below par results have been caused by lack of reliability in the latest generation Ferrari power unit, which ultimately resulted in Vettel not even making it to the start grid last time out in Bahrain.
However, at the end of day one in China the Ferrari drivers did end one-two on the timing sheets, prompting Arrivabene to comment, “It was a good Friday, not a bad one but unfortunately not gaining position on the grid or points in the championship.”
Arrivabene was hand picked (from his role at Marlboro) by Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler president Sergio Marchionne to lead the team after he ousted the Luca di Montezemolo led regime that ruled Maranello for decades.
After a mediocre 2015 Marchionne’s ambitions were made quite clear before the start of 2016 season, when he commented almost prophetically, “I hope we can put it on the front row at the first grand prix, but I am hesitating because I see that Mercedes is so calm and that makes me worry.”
Marchionne insisted, “2016 should be the year for us to return to the top. Our investments have not been lacking. We know that our rivals are strong, but we are not afraid of them as we are the most successful team in the history of Formula 1.”
But Arrivabene was unfazed by the high level expectations, “It’s perfectly normal that big companies like Ferrari set high targets. For me it is therefore understandable that the bar is as high as possible.”
Such is the magnitude of Ferrari success, or lack thereof, in Italy that even the country’s prime minister Matteo Renzi got into the act when he joked at the time, “I am pleased that Marchionne is not putting pressure on [Maurizio] Arrivabene and the team!”