BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) Eight races into the Formula One season and Ferrari remains winless, but the Italian team is not yet ready to surrender the 2016 title to runaway leader Mercedes.
Nico Rosberg’s victory at Sunday’s European Grand Prix, and Sebastian Vettel’s second place for Ferrari, widened the gap between the two drivers to 45 points with 13 races remaining. In the constructors’ championship the margin is now 81 points.
Sceptics have been urging Ferrari to abandon hopes of challenging for this year’s title and instead get a head start on developing a car to meet 2017’s significantly altered design regulations. But Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne believes the team should not abandon hope yet.
“The points difference does not justify such pessimism,” Marchionne said trackside in Baku. “That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but the team will not give up and start to think about 2017.”
“With what happened in the last few races, for me, the championship is fully open. We must try to get ourselves in the game. Maurizio (Arrivabene, team principal) and the team want to do it. I have heard that Vettel is convinced that the car is there and that they will be able to bring the results.”
Second place was a creditable result for the team, given the degree of Mercedes’ dominance through practice, qualifying and then the race.
“Today was a great job for us, we struggled on Friday but to see where we are now is a great recovery,” Vettel said. “Two second places in a row. The car is coming along.”
Kimi Raikkonen was overtaken by Force India’s Sergio Perez for third place on the penultimate lap, but had incurred a five-second penalty for crossing the white line at the pit entry at his pitstop. He would have been relegated behind the Mexican anyway regardless of the passing move.
“I don’t understand the rule of crossing the line, you gain zero from it,” Raikkonen said.
It was a frustrating race for the Finn, who had the TV producers working overtime on the bleep button as he complained over the radio about backmarkers getting in his way. He then had a failure of the hybrid power access which the team was not allowed to help him resolve.