Ferrari insists there is no panic about its situation in the World Championship, despite Fernando Alonso losing the lead to Sebastian Vettel in the Korean Grand Prix.
Alonso held a 40-point advantage over the rest of the field after the summer break, but a resurgence in form by his rivals and opening lap crashes in Belgium and Japan have hurt his title prospects. The Spaniard is now six points behind Vettel with just four races remaining.
Although the situation looks difficult for Alonso and Ferrari, team principal Stefano Domenicali believes matters are not as bad as many believe.
"Don't forget in the last five races we have not raced in two," he explained. "The situation in the championship would have been totally different if we were not out at the first corner [in Belgium and Japan]. Don't underestimate this important factor in light of the championship."
Domenicali believes that recent fluctuations in form – like the way McLaren has been quick on some days and outclassed on others – gives his squad reason to believe it can get itself back in the hunt.
"We have seen one of our main competitors be very, very strong up until qualifying, and then in the race it was a different pace with other problems that we don't know, so things can turn very quickly," he said. "For us, the objective is to make sure that we deliver to Fernando the best car we have first of all in terms of reliability, and second to make sure that we make the right choice in terms of package. And thirdly, to make sure in the next races, as I am sure Red Bull will try to do, to bring the developments that will let the car do the right step.
"The Red Bull we have seen in the last couple of races was very, very strong. But the championship is very, very long. I don't want to hear anything on the championship because it will be a tough and sporting challenge right until the end, I am pretty sure."
Domenicali believes the difference to Red Bull in pace terms is only around two-tenths of a second per lap in the race. But he has called on his team to find more pace in qualifying.
"I think realistically that [two tenths] is the gap, but in qualifying I would like to find a little bit more because we know they are very strong over a single lap," he explained. "We have seen when you start from the first row, you can do the race you want with the right pace, you can control everything and that is the target that has to be clear to our engineers."