Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali believes the team is in control of its own world championship destiny this year having proved the pace of its car with victory in the Chinese Grand Prix.
Last season, Fernando Alonso was able to open up a 40-point lead in the drivers' standings before the August break through consistent scoring as other teams' performances fluctuated.
But the China victory proves the Ferrari F138 is more competitive than the F2012 was at the end of last year, meaning that the team does not have to play catch-up in the development war or rely solely on Alonso's brilliance.
When asked by AUTOSPORT if Ferrari was capable of fighting this year rather than hanging on in the title race, Domenicali said: "Yes, I think so.
"The car seems better this year in terms of pure performance, even though it is not enough because we need to make it better and better.
"Last year, when the car wasn't the best we were able to score a lot of points in the first half of the year, then we lost the [development] race and it was more difficult.
"We need to be very ambitious with the fact we need to score the same kind of points relative to the others [now] and make sure that in the second half we can increase [performance].
"But it's a good base."
Domenicali added that he is still uncertain as to the true competitive picture of the leading teams.
Lotus, Red Bull and Ferrari have won the three races held so far and he expects the hot conditions in Bahrain to change the competitive order again.
"We have another situation in Bahrain with different conditions," said Domenicali.
"We will see where the performance of our car relative to the others will be there.
"I don't really have a clear picture of what the pure performance classification is, it's not easy this year."
FERRARI 2012 v 2013 after 3 races
Although Fernando Alonso failed to finish the Malaysian Grand Prix, both the Spaniard in the drivers' championship and Ferrari in the constructors' standings have more points than after three races last year.
1 Sebastian Vettel 52
2 Kimi Raikkonen 49
3 Fernando Alonso 43
1 Red Bull 78
2 Ferrari 73
3 Lotus 60
1 Lewis Hamilton 45
2 Jenson Button 43
3 Fernando Alonso 37
1 McLaren 88
2 Red Bull 64
3 Ferrari 37