Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari is approaching the performance level of chief rival squad Mercedes through a series of "small steps" as the Formula 1 season progresses.
The arrival of Vettel at Maranello has co-incided with a marked upturn in Ferrari's fortunes, the German taking the team's first victory in almost two years with a win in Malaysia and showing strongly elsewhere.
Mercedes nonetheless remain the sport's pacesetters, having established a 52-point lead in the constructors' race thanks to Lewis Hamilton's three victories in the first four grands prix.
Talking to Germany's Welt newspaper, Vettel said that Ferrari is eating into that advantage through a series of "small steps".
"At the moment, Mercedes has the strongest package and two strong drivers," said the quadruple world champion.
"You can't easily get past that, but we're obviously trying to get as close as possible.
"We're trying to annoy Mercedes, and when something goes wrong we have to be right behind them and ready to strike.
"However, it is also important that we don't allow ourselves to be overtaken by the teams behind us in the process.
Vettel added that he believes Ferrari still has a chance to overhaul Mercedes through coming out on top in what he describes as a "development arms race" as the season progresses.
"The development arms race always decides the world championship," explained the German.
"If you do not improve from the first to the last race, you never win the title, even if you start with clearly the best car."