Sebastian Vettel says his Ferrari colleagues at Maranello deserve to be recognised for overhauling Mercedes' engine power advantage in Formula One rather than questioned.
Since the start of the turbo-hybrid formula in 2014, Mercedes has been the dominant force in Formula One, mainly thanks to its superior engine performance. This year, however, Ferrari has not only caught up but pulled an advantage over the world champions in terms of engine power.
At last weekend's race in Spa both manufacturers introduced their third and final engine update for the year, but Ferrari's advantage remained clear and helped Vettel breeze past title rival Lewis Hamilton for the lead of the race on the opening lap.
After the finish, Hamilton referenced some "trick things" on the Ferrari, hinting at Mercedes' struggle to understand how its rival has extracted so much performance from its hybrid system in such a short period of time. But Vettel believes that Ferrari's clear advantage should be celebrated rather than questioned and gave praise to the team's engine department in Maranello.
"I think it's a huge compliment if people praise our engine because the last five years people didn't praise anything other than Mercedes engines," he said. "So it's good to have that change and I think it makes Maranello and all the Ferraristi and our engine department very happy.
"Everybody involved can be very proud. I think the key is not only that, the key is teamwork, the car is also working in all sorts of tracks, is efficient and I think that's the key to bringing everything together. We take it."
Vettel said Ferrari's entire package had taken a significant step forward this year after the team sought to address the weaknesses of last year's car.
"We had our deficits last year, I think we had a car that worked really well on twisty tracks where a lot of downforce was required. But we were missing out on tracks where the car needs to be more efficient like here, like Silverstone usually and a couple of other tracks.
"This year the car seems to be more robust in that regard and seems to work everywhere. Needless to say we improved the package as well -- the power unit -- so on all fronts I think we've done a step forward. But yes, it is a key to have a car that works everywhere because that has been our weakness and I think we tackled it fairly well."