Ferrari wants to be 'team to beat' in Australia

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Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has declared the team has its eyes firmly set on leapfrogging Mercedes in time for the 2016 opener in Melbourne.

Ferrari closed the gap to Mercedes in 2015 and scored three victories, but was unable to mount a serious challenge over the course of a season. There will be much focus this winter on whether Ferrari has continued to close the gap, following Niki Lauda's assertion at the end of 2015 the two manufacturers were equal on engine power.

Marchionne has set the bar high for Ferrari's 2016 campaign, starting with the race at Albert Park on March 15.

"We have a strong team and while our opponents also are, we want to be the team to beat in Australia, because we are the most successful squad in history," Marchionne said. "We have made all the necessary investments in order to bring the title back to Maranello. I am sure Maurizio Arrivabene and the entire team's work in 2015 is an excellent base to build on in order to have a successful 2016 season."

Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene tried to keep expectations in check during 2015 -- setting a target of two wins before the season -- but sees no problems with the lofty ambitions of the president.

"Marchionne is the president, so he must set goals. There is nothing wrong with that. What I do and what other people at Ferrari do -- which perhaps receives less media coverage -- is geared towards meeting these targets. There is nothing wrong with them. It is quite the contrary."