Fernando Alonso is convinced Ferrari can savour title-winning delight this season after admitting to starting the campaign in the depths of despair.
Fierce criticism followed the team’s unveiling of their car this year given its boxy, Lego-like appearance, and when it took to the track it appeared such harsh words were well founded.
But after the first five races of the season, Alonso remarkably finds himself going into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix as joint leader of the championship alongside Sebastian Vettel.
That prompted president Luca di Montezemolo to write an open letter to Ferrari’s workforce at the start of the week, notably insisting “the championship is in our hands”.
Praising Alonso’s “great ability” and the work done in Maranello to improve the car, Di Montezemolo added that “…winning the championship depends only and exclusively on ourselves: on our ability, creativity, determination and desire to show we are the best”.
With Ferrari and Alonso firmly in the hunt for the title less than four months after no-one gave them a prayer, the Spaniard said: “Our president spoke about our chances, and as always tried to motivate everyone within Ferrari.
“We started in a position of despair, but we have points which have put us in a good position for fighting for the championship.
“Now, I completely agree with the president. It’s up to us.
“If we do a good job of improving the car and making it fast we will have a chance; if it’s the opposite then we will never win the championship.
“But it’s extra motivation to everyone in Ferrari, knowing even after a bad start we have a chance if we work well.
“Hopefully we can find more performance in the car, with everyone at the factory giving 100%. Hopefully it’s enough.”
It has made Alonso’s role as team leader this year far simpler in comparison to last season when Ferrari were just another also-ran behind Red Bull and Vettel.
Alonso said: “Last year we fought until the end, but it was very difficult.
“Sebastian was too strong, too good for us and the rest of the field, winning nearly all the races and taking nearly all the pole positions.
“But this year, with things a little more open, it’s a little easier because no-one is dominating, so everyone is motivated.
“We all see the possibility of being there at the end if we all do the right things.
“This year everyone is motivated to fight until the last minute because you don’t see anyone particularly stronger than you, nor anyone weaker. We are all there.”
It means Alonso has another chance on Sunday of ending Ferrari’s long winless drought in Monaco, stretching back to 2001.
Should he do so, Alonso would become the first driver in F1 to win around the streets of the principality with three different manufacturers having previously triumphed with Renault and McLaren.
“Monaco is a special weekend,” said Alonso.
“I don’t think the track itself is more or less difficult, or more or less interesting than some other street circuits like Singapore, or some amazing circuits where you really enjoy the lap like Suzuka, Sepang or Spa.
“But the weekend in general is fantastic, with the atmosphere, the people that come to the race, whilst the paddock and pitlane are very unique.
“For people watching it’s the most prestigious and glamorous race on the calendar, with a lot of history behind this grand prix.
“Because of that we all like to win here. Winning one time in your life in Monaco will always be remembered.
“If we have a good race here then the points for the championship will be welcome, and if we dream a little more and we think about the victory, we’ll be extremely happy.
“That’s because Ferrari has not won for many years in Monaco, and personally because I would become the only driver to win here with three different teams.
“I’m sure this will happen anyway, if not this year, then given my long-term contract with Ferrari, sometime in the future.”