Mercedes still ahead for 2017 says Marchionne

Ferrari has rejected the "favourite" tag ahead of next weekend's season-opening Australian grand prix.

Although Mercedes has won the past three titles, Lewis Hamilton thinks a "bluffing" Ferrari is the "favourite" based on Barcelona testing.

And team chairman Niki Lauda thinks a "tough year" lies ahead for Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel, however, insists that Mercedes remains the favourite, and his Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne seems to agree.

"We had two goals for the Barcelona tests," Marchionne said.

"Firstly, to be competitive with Red Bull Racing. And secondly, to have a reliable car. For me, Mercedes is still ahead."

Finally, Marchionne spoke about the hapless former Ferrari rival McLaren-Honda, and he said: "I wish them a good recovery."

As for the 2017 season more generally, Marchionne remarked: "It will be interesting.

"The cars are so much faster and the drivers will really have to earn their money. I think they'll be much sweatier when they get out of their cars."

(GMM)

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