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Marchionne, in Baku, says title 'wide open'


Formula 1 News - June, 2016

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Jun.19 (GMM) Sergio Marchionne made a surprise appearance in Baku on Sunday and backed Ferrari to push on for the 2016 title.

Earlier, at a business event in Venice on Saturday, the Ferrari president sounded critical of the Maurizio Arrivabene-led team in its efforts to give Sebastian Vettel a winning car.

But he said in Baku ahead of the Azerbaijan race: "For me the championship is wide open.

"I have talked to Arrivabene and Vettel and they say the car is there and they are convinced that they can succeed. We are not even halfway through the season," he is quoted by La Stampa newspaper on Sunday.

However, the rules are changing considerably for 2017 and Ferrari's current car has been a full second off the pace this weekend.

Asked if it is time for Ferrari to focus on 2017, Marchionne said: "Every year Ferrari stops development at some point to think about next season.

"But to stop now would be the wrong attitude. There is a race now and in two weeks there will be another in Austria. We move on and we improve the car race by race.

"The 2017 project is going forward in parallel."

Marchionne said Ferrari has made good progress in 2016.

"The improvements on the power unit were outstanding," he said. "Now the problem is tyre management and downforce, but the important thing is to support the team.

"The gap to rivals has been reduced and for me the championship is absolutely not over," Marchionne was also quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I saw how qualifying went but we have to be careful because this is a harder circuit than it seems. The engine and the car are there but it is complex and it all has to work," he said.

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