Sebastian Vettel says he feels Sergio Marchionne's increasing scrutiny of the Ferrari F1 team is a 'positive' as it comes from a place of motivation rather than pressure.
Since coming in as Ferrari President in late 2014, Marchionne – also CEO of the FIAT-Chrysler car company – has made several appearances at F1 this year, seen in itself as a way of increasing the pressure on a Ferrari team that had predicted wins and a possible title challenge in 2016.
However, though Ferrari has shown flashes of form this year, it has struggled to match Mercedes like-for-like and missed out on a prime opportunity during the Spanish Grand Prix as Red Bull's Max Verstappen instead clinched victory following Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's controversial coming together.
The unsatisfactory result is only likely to ramp up pressure on Ferrari, particularly in the wake of recent comments made by Marchionne over Ferrari's failure to harness its potential this year, even if the man himself insisted there are no plans to drop Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal.
Despite this, Vettel refuses to see Marchionne's presence or comments as anything other than a motivation and a dedication to Ferrari's ultimate cause.
“I think it is great that our president cares,” he said. “He is really in tune with the team, he wants to help us where he can and of course he is upset and disappointed when things happen that are out of your hands, you are not finishing the race or you are not finishing where we could have finished. So I see more the positives rather than the pressure. I think it is good to have him behind us.
“I speak to him and the team speaks to him, so this makes me quite confident. Bit by bit things are going the right way. We set the target to win this year, we haven't achieved that yet so you have a fair point if you want to criticise us but the guys are behind us.
“It is not secret, we want to bring Ferrari back to the top sooner rather than later. As I said before, the races we have had could have been better but they were not. We can keep talking about the races we have had, it doesn't change anything but it is smarter investing our time in the races we have ahead of us.
“There are no big secrets, everyone in the team, including him is wanting to make progress. I think we are working dissimilarly to other teams, we are pushing hard and he is a big part of the team. Sure, he lets us know where he wants the team to be, but equally we have the same motivation here.”
After five races, Kimi Raikkonen is classified second in the overall standings with 61 points – 39 points off Nico Rosberg -, with Sebastian Vettel in fourth, a further 13 points adrift.