Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff has refused to write off a Ferrari title challenge in 2017, despite the Scuderia enduring a winless campaign in the season gone by.
Ferrari slipped behind Red Bull to third in the constructors standings in 2016, finishing 70 points behind the Milton Keynes-based team.
However, with a major regulation overhaul expected to shake up the grid this year, Wolff feels Ferrari has the potential to return to competitive ways.
“In 2012 and 2013, [Mercedes] were not the favorites, then with the regulatory change we became successful,” Wolff told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It could happen to Ferrari. It has the potential and resources to go back to being competitive.”
Ferrari has undergone several changes behind-the-scenes, with highly-reputed technical director James Allison leaving earlier in 2016.
Instead of hiring another A-listed engineer, Ferrari chose to promote incumbent Mattia Binotto to his position, prompting some criticism.
The Italian outfit has also come under fire for exerting excessive pressure on their employees, with President Sergio Marchionne warning the staff to leave if they can’t achieve the desired results.
But Wolff has taken Marchionne’s side in this matter: “They focused on being an Italian team. For me, that is an added value, not a restraint,”
“Ferrari does not need mercenaries. I am convinced that the decisions taken by Marchionne and [team principal Maurizio] Arrivabene are moving [Ferrari] in the right direction.”
Ferrari’s last victory came at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, where Sebastian Vettel took the winning honours.
by Rachit Thukral