Current Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne this week admitted Sepang last weekend made him angry, vowing organisational changes after both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen suffered car problems.
But Marchionne’s predecessor, Montezemolo, hailed Ferrari’s step forward in 2017.
“I think everyone realises now that we are close,” he is quoted by Corriere dello Sport.
“The world championship is difficult but there are still five races and with this car it is justified to believe.”
And so Montezemolo defended Ferrari, even after two separate technical problems in Malaysia that prevented a likely victory last Sunday.
“The important thing is to have a fast car,” he said.
“Ferrari could have been first and second in the last two races. But it is better to have a fast car that is liable to break than a reliable car that is behind.”