Sebastian Vettel has praised the dedication and commitment shown by Ferrari during a difficult 2016 F1 season but admits there is 'plenty of work ahead' in its quest to challenge for the F1 title next season.
Following a successful return to winning ways in 2015, Ferrari failed to top the podium this season and struggled for consistent form relative to title winners Mercedes, while Red Bull Racing also ended the year comfortably clear of its Italian rivals too.
Ferrari's indifferent campaign also comes amidst speculation of unrest behind the scenes, with President Sergio Marchionne reportedly unimpressed by the team's failure to build on the three wins it achieved in 2015.
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However, Vettel maintains there is a good harmony within the Scuderia
, adding that Ferrari should be applauded for the way it is brushed off criticism and continued to show 'spirit' in its efforts to regain form.
“I think the strongest point we have is the spirit inside the team. Very often this year we might have been criticised but we are working very hard, people are very committed here. I have said many times we wanted something more this year but for many reasons it didn't happen.”
With the 2017 F1 season set to mark ten years since Ferrari last won a world title, Vettel is confident the lessons learned this year will stand the team in good stead as it prepares to capitalise on the shift in technical regulations.
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However, following the blow of losing technical director James Allison midway through the 2016 season, Vettel concedes there is 'plenty of work ahead' for Ferrari.
“If you want to speak about the deficit on the car we have plenty of work ahead of us this winter. Next year's rules are very different but looking purely at what is missing this year is a little bit of downforce compared to our main rivals. I think we have made a very good job since the beginning of the year but not especially on Saturdays when Mercedes seems to still have a little bit of a trick and can step up more than other manufacturers.
“They are the two main points we have been missing out on this year and the two we need to focus on for next year. I don't need to explain that in F1 these days even if you build a better chassis or car it is dominated by aerodynamics.
“A third one could be to add is that sometimes we struggle to get the tyres in to work in the widow. If you have a car which produces a lot of downforce you can do yourself a favour with the tyres. Those two go hand-in-hand.”
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