Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says his team has paid the price for ‘ignoring’ quality control, but is adamant it is not too late to rescue its Formula 1 season.
Sebastian Vettel’s title hopes have been all but dashed after a crash in Singapore, followed by engine troubles in Malaysia and Japan, have allowed rival Lewis Hamilton to open up a 59-point advantage in the standings.
Although Marchionne has expressed some frustration about a 59 euro spark plug costing the team so dearly, he has again renewed his belief that Ferrari needs to ramp up its quality control.
“It was a technical nonsense that had an impact on a car that costs millions of euros,” said Marchionne in an interview with Italy’s Class CNBC television channel.
"We must renew our commitment regarding the quality of the components coming to F1. It's a problem we've probably ignored over time because it was never of much importance.
"But now we've had at least three occasions where we've really seen the devastating impact on performance. We'll fix it.”
Although disappointed at what has happened recently, Marchionne believes that the pace of his team’s car means there remains the chance to pressure Mercedes.
"Without being arrogant, I think it [the car] is at the same level if not better than Mercedes today," Marchionne added. "I'm sure if we'd not had any problems like in the last three races, we would be having a different discussion."
Marchionne still sees potential to end the season well, as he said his team must not lose belief in itself.
"The season is not lost, there's still all to do," said Marchionne. "I won't talk of bad luck, I don't believe in it. The important thing is to not lose the confidence that has brought us so far.
"I'm delighted with what the team has done and I have tremendous confidence that in the next four races we will be able to close most of the Mercedes gap."