Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari is reaping the rewards of its strategy of keeping its head down over the winter having emerged as the team to beat during the 2017 F1 season.

The Scuderia’s management structure came under scrutiny towards the end of the 2016 F1 season after struggling to build on a race-winning 2015 campaign, with Red Bull emerging as the team tipped to take the fight to Mercedes under the revised regulations.

However, despite a ‘quiet’ winter period it was Ferrari that came out of the blocks strongest for 2017, with Sebastian Vettel leading the standings from the opening round.

Armed with a 14 point lead over Lewis Hamilton heading into the current summer break, Vettel believes the results are a vindication for Ferrari’s method to ignore outside speculation and ‘keep to itself’.

“I think all in all, the mission has been to get back to the top so obviously we had a great year, I’m only two and a half years in with the team.

“I think we had a great year in ’15 which helped to get the project going. ’16 was difficult, I think, for many reasons but I think it was a great year to set things up, a lot of change for the team but over the winter I think we were the team that made the least noise.

“There was a lot of talk about the new cars and the new regulations and how it will favour one team over the other and how it will bring back other teams and so on. I was very happy that we just worked, we just kept to ourselves and did the job.

Indeed, Vettel touches upon the criticism Ferrari received in 2016, saying it is ‘not fair’ for fingers to point at a single person for failure.

“We have a great car. We know, I think, by now with a lot of races done, what the strength of the car is, where the weaknesses are, that’s where we need to work on. For sure you cannot expect it to change overnight but yeah, I’m very confident the group of people…

“We have a lot of people that you maybe don’t know because from the outside people try to identify a team with one person in terms of who is the driver or obviously it’s easy because there are only two but in terms of who is designing the car, it very often ends up with one… you point the finger at one person. It’s not fair.

“The team is very big and there’s a lot of people so we have a lot of great people, young people coming up and a great culture, people taking risks and that’s what we need to do. We want to win so very happy where we are going but it’s not yet enough."

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Even now it's still too early to make much noise, I'd say, nor is this the right time to quit keeping the head down.