Marchionne not hitting back at Lauda jibe

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has declined to hit back at a jibe made by Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda.

Earlier, former Ferrari driver Lauda claimed the great Maranello marque was struggling in F1 because of its Italian "spaghetti" culture.

Now, referring to new technical boss Mattia Binotto, Lauda said: "You consider Binotto to be Italian? Actually he is Swiss, and it shows.

"Ferrari works now because there is a Swiss who organises the Italians, making them work but leaving them free to express their imagination and ideas."

When told about Lauda's comments, Ferrari president Marchionne responded: "I will not talk.

"If I do, I will send him a few insults. And I'm not going to insult a friend," he told La Repubblica newspaper.

But the truth is, Ferrari's self-imposed media ban may now be lifting, as even its own high expectations for 2017 are surpassed by the early performance of Sebastian Vettel.

"We are happy, no doubt about it," Marchionne said.

Indeed, the 2017 car has been born well, but most insiders believe the title will be won by a more intense than usual development race.

"Yes," Marchionne agrees. "In recent years we seemed to get a bit tired when developing the car. But this year we will not.

"There is a programme that is going ahead at full speed. We just need a bit of time."

(GMM)

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