Ferrari are ‘credible contender’ for F1 title

Charles Leclerc and Ferrari have struggled to keep up with Mercedes. (AFP pic)

MILAN: Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri insisted on Tuesday that the company’s Formula One team remained a “credible contender” despite a difficult start to the season.

Ferrari dominated winter testing in Barcelona in February but have been outraced by great rivals Mercedes in the first four Grands Prix of the season.

“The first races clearly did not meet our ambitions, but we remain confident that we have all the necessary assets to be a credible contender for the championship,” Camilleri said at the unveiling of the luxury car manufacturer’s better-than-expected quarterly results.

Mercedes have made the best start in F1 history, sweeping the first two places in all four races. They have 173 points in the manufacturers’ ranking, 74 ahead of Ferrari.

“We’ve proven that we have a fast car, and we are actively focused in improving its overall balance and performance,” Camilleri said before praising the drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, and the race staff.

“We have the privilege to have two great drivers and a great team. We have a united, determined, serene and talented team both on the track and in Maranello, who will give their all to finally fulfil their ambitions.”

Vettel is the best non-Mercedes driver in the individual standings with 52 points, but trails far behind Valtteri Bottas on 87 and champion Lewis Hamilton on 86.

Hamilton had harsh words for Ferrari after the latest race in Baku.

“Until they start to perform at the level we are now, then this is how it’s going to be,” he said. “They’re going to have to pick it up if they want to fight us.”

Vettel, who was third in Azerbaijan, agreed.

“He is right,” said Vettel. “We need to pick it up.

“We have a good car, but we’re not using it to get the results we should be getting.”