Fernando Alonso says his former team Ferrari has improved since 2014.
The Spaniard left the fabled Maranello team for McLaren-Honda, declaring that he would rather build up a new project rather than finish second for more years.
“Ferrari is better this year than last year,” he admitted to Germany’s Sport Bild. “The gap to Mercedes last year was bigger, despite the three wins.”
Alonso’s comments come amid an apparent mid-season dip for Ferrari, who are yet to join Mercedes and now even Red Bull in the winner’s circle in 2016.
Alonso’s Ferrari successor, Sebastian Vettel, agrees that the red team is better this year.
“Last year we were in no man’s land,” he is quoted by the Telegraph newspaper.
“This year by nature the gap is smaller, we are closer, we probably haven’t had smooth races like we had in the beginning last year, so things didn’t yet come together which is also our fault,” Vettel added.
Ferrari is reportedly pushing ahead with a vengeance for Canada, upgrading its turbo unit, preparing aerodynamic improvements and revising the suspension to solve the 2016 car’s problem of ‘turning on’ the tyres in qualifying.
Alonso continued: “Ferrari is doing everything right, but Mercedes is just too strong.
“The lead they got with the hybrid engines in 2014 was so great that they still benefit today. But the changes in the chassis for 2017 could shake up the field and Ferrari will be strong again,” the Spaniard added.
For now, many expect that Ferrari will struggle even to speed back past Red Bull, who in Barcelona and Monaco were Mercedes’ biggest competitor.
“The biggest lesson for us has been how dangerous Red Bull can be,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said ahead of the Montreal race, according to DPA news agency.
Former F1 driver and now German-language Sky pundit Marc Surer said in Canada: “I think (Daniel) Ricciardo is due a win, whether it rains or not.”