By Alan Baldwin
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene offered a weary smile on Friday when asked whether there was a 'climate of fear' at his Formula One team.
"It's an old story," he said at a U.S. Grand Prix news conference.
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"Ferrari in Italy is like the Italian national football team. Having pressure is normal. Having tension is normal. Having criticism is normal. So you have to live with that.
"Then, sometimes it's going too far. So our job is to be concentrated on what we are doing, to follow our way...this is part of the job. If you are working in Maranello and with a brand like Ferrari you have to accept all, like it or not."
Arrivabene added that the atmosphere inside Ferrari, Formula One's most glamorous and successful team who are without a win so far this season, was "completely different" to how people often perceived it.
The Italian outfit's former chief engineer Luca Baldisserri told the Corriere Dello Sport newspaper last week that staff at the Maranello factory were reluctant to take risks in case they were fired.
"They are no longer a team but a group of scared people," he said. "Inside there is a climate of fear, the boys do not take risks, they don't make decisions for fear of being kicked out in disgrace."
The oldest team in the sport, and the only one to have competed since 1950, Ferrari last won a drivers' world title with Finland's Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. Their most recent constructors' championship was in 2008.
They are now third overall, a drop of one place from where they finished last year, with Raikkonen and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said in September that the team had failed to meet their targets for the season and the focus was now on 2017.
"It's no use putting sweeteners on the stuff, the car isn't there and I don't think we developed it. I think we started well in Australia, I think that we failed in developing the car during the season which is due to a variety of reasons," he said.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)