Ferrari can challenge Mercedes this year: Vettel

Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:51am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Mercedes are deserving favorites to win the Formula One championship again but Ferrari have a car that can challenge the Silver Arrows this year, four-times champion Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday.

Ferrari showed impressive pace during pre-season testing and are considered the team most likely to dethrone Mercedes, who have dominated the last two seasons.

Asked whether the Italian glamor team were strong enough to challenge for the title, German Vettel was forthright.

"I think we have," he told the pre-race media conference at Albert Park ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"The question is whether we are ready in time. But we are making progress.

"And we have made a step over the winter. But our target is to turn things around. Mercedes are still the favorites but we are trying to become the favorites."

Vettel said Ferrari's new SF16-H was a "big improvement" and a "big step forward overall" on last year's car.

"We've done a very, very nice job... and it allows us to be first of all quicker from the start and also have more chance of improving throughout the year," he added.   Continued...

Ferrari F1 driver Sebastian Vettel (L) sits alongside Red Bull Racing F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton during a news conference at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. REUTERS/Brandon Malone