Andretti tips Ferrari to challenge Mercedes
17 December 2015 – Former Ferrari driver Mario Andretti reckons the team is capable of cutting the gap to Mercedes and challenging for world titles next year, given the gains it made for 2015.
Ferrari endured a troubled start to the new turbo era in 2014, but improved considerably over the winter to emerge as Mercedes' main rival, taking three wins and 13 further podiums.
"I guarantee you that Mercedes is thinking of that," Andretti, the 1978 World Champion, told GPUpdate.net, when asked if Ferrari can take the next step and fight for titles in 2016.
"It's going to be interesting to see whether Mercedes can maintain this incredible advantage that they've been enjoying. If that's so, then it's not going to be interesting for Formula 1.
"But again, I look for Ferrari to really continue with their resolve. I guarantee you that they're thinking to be contenders for next year – it would be crazy not to think that.
"I think realistically, this [a title challenge] could happen, it could be a factor."
Andretti praised the impact of team boss Maurizio Arrivabene, who arrived after the 2014 season, and described the balance between Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen as "perfect".
"Everything that's happened at Ferrari so far seems like the right thing, and Arrivabene seems to have really brought the team together," Andretti went on to explain.
"When you have three wins where you never expected potentially deep down to win at all this season, they can say, 'you know what, they [Mercedes] knew we were there'.
"I don't hear Mercedes being fearful of many other teams, but they keep mentioning Ferrari.
"You never leave Ferrari out. It seems like right now Ferrari is very well positioned. I think the balance of the talent of the drivers, between Kimi and Sebastian, is a perfect team, quite honestly.
"I think it will only be stronger [in 2016], because when you have harmony within the team, it's amazing how much better things are all around, and how much better everyone performs."