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Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne says Sebastian Vettel's impressive victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix proves his team's pace will see them challenge for the F1 world title in 2017 against Mercedes.

The Ferrari chief was thrilled to see Vettel secure the 2017 season opener victory in Australia but after conditions and pit stop strategies played against his team in China, Mercedes battled back with Lewis Hamilton winning in Shanghai.

In Bahrain, Vettel jumped past pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas in the first round of pit stops and pulled out a healthy lead to keep Lewis Hamilton at bay for victory to retake the outright F1 world championship lead while Ferrari also narrowly heads up the F1 world constructors' championship.

Marchionne says Vettel's impressive race pace to stretch ahead of both Mercedes cars in Bahrain demonstrates Ferrari's title challenge but has repeated how the Maranello squad must be unrelenting in its development to keep its position at the top in 2017 under the new F1 technical regulations.

"It is hugely satisfying to be back on the top step of the podium with Seb," Marchionne said. "More importantly, however, we are now completely confident that our victory in Melbourne wasn't just a one-off and that we will be at the forefront of this World Championship until the last.

"We finally have a competitive car to count on and it is important to recognise the speed with which we implemented the developments demanded for each new race. All this is the fruit of superb work at the track and in Maranello, so my compliments not just to Seb for his achievements in Bahrain, but also to the whole team.

"Congratulations to Kimi too on a good race. That said, we are well aware we have a long road ahead and know that if we want to get to the most important finish-line of all, we cannot stint on our commitment and focus for a second."

Vettel has a seven-point lead over Hamilton after three rounds of the 2017 F1 world championship, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the standings, while Ferrari has seen its world constructors' championship lead slip to three points against Mercedes.

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