Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari is no longer the underdog in Formula 1 but does admit the team still has work to do to become favourites for race victories.
Since the introduction of Maurizio Arrivabene as Ferrari team principal, a number of changes behind the scenes and four-time F1 champion Vettel joining Ferrari it has seen a consistent and strong upward trend in its performance and results, with the German driver the only non-Mercedes man to grace the top step of the rostrum (Malaysia, Hungary and Singapore) or start from pole position (Singapore) in 2015.
With Ferrari's second place in the Constructors' championship confirmed in Austin, Vettel feels the Maranello-based squad can no longer be considered as outsiders and is aiming to beat the one Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg, who he can still reach after Lewis Hamilton sealed his third F1 title at the United States Grand Prix.
“I don't consider myself the underdog,” Vettel said ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix. “I know that we are not the favourites, but I think that we showed since the beginning of the season we are not somewhere in the midfield. If we get our act together we have a reasonable chance of finishing on the podium on a regular basis and I think that is what we have achieved so far.
“We have surprised a lot of people and surely exceeded our expectations. It has been an all-in-all very positive so far and for sure second place is the target. First is out of reach, but second is better than third, so we try to go for second.”
Despite the large number of unknowns heading into the first Mexican Grand Prix for 23 years, Vettel is quietly confident Ferrari can challenge the dominant Mercedes once again while thoughts also begin to switch to next season's title charges.
“I think we have done a great job this year on the power unit side and there is a long straight here which should help us,” he explained. “Unfortunately we are not yet the favourites but I think we are just behind and we try our best to be as close as possible to Mercedes and ideally in front.
“We know where we want to go and where we want to be in the future, so there is a lot of work still ahead of us. Certainly we will be a lot happier if people call us the favourite and not the underdog in the future.”