Ferrari only 10 percent behind Mercedes says Todt

Former team boss Jean Todt has tipped Ferrari to keep chipping away at the small gap to F1 frontrunners Mercedes and Red Bull.

The current FIA president's defence of the Maranello team follows its performance and so-called 'crisis' of 2016, with one pundit pointing the finger at three key individuals.

First, former F1 driver turned German language pundit Marc Surer said president Sergio Marchionne is being too confrontational.

"He might make a good football coach, but it doesn't work in formula one to keep kicking the players," he told Speed Week.

"Formula one is a highly analytical sport, which Marchionne does not understand," said Surer. "Again and again he keeps saying 'We have to do this, we have to do that', but F1 doesn't work like that."

Surer said another key component of Ferrari's struggle in 2016 was the departure of technical boss James Allison, following the death of his wife.

Allison is now expected to join Mercedes.

"He was probably no longer concentrated this year, and the engineers become rudderless," said Surer.

"I found it a clear mistake to let Allison go. A part-time Allison would have been better than no Allison," he insisted.

Finally, Surer commented on Sebastian Vettel, saying the German's loss of temper at times in 2016 was "incomprehensible".

"I see only one hope," he said. "That Rory Byrne, who has been consulted for the 2017 car, succeeds, as he is an absolute genius."

Former team boss Todt, however, suggested it is too alarmist to declare that Ferrari is struggling as much as some commentators are suggesting.

"They are lacking 10% in comparison to Mercedes and 3% to Red Bull," he said. "That's not a lot.

"Ferrari has always fought in the leading group and achieved incredible success when there were no problems with reliability," Todt told Corriere della Sera.

"If we had the same reliability as they have now, we would have won the title in 2006 with Michael Schumacher and 2008 with Felipe Massa," he added.

(GMM)

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