Luca di Montezemolo
Luca di Montezemolo served as the chairman of Ferrari for 23 years until he stepped up in 2014Reuters

Former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo feels the Maranello-based team has been lucky to find success this season due to lack of competition from rivals.

The 67-year-old Italian left Ferrari after 23 years, in 2014, following his team's poor performance on the track last season and disagreement with Fiat (the parent company) chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne, who went on to succeed Montezemolo.

Ferrari seem to have returned to the front grid, as they are currently the only team to provide some competition to Mercedes this season, but Montezemolo feels that the Italian outfit's success this season should be attributed to no competition from the other teams.

"Marchionne and [Maurizio] Arrivabene [Ferrari's team principal] have done very well, we should congratulate them," he told La Repubblica. "But I honestly think they've been lucky."

"This year, apart from Mercedes they have no competitor; Williams hasn't improved, Red Bull has imploded - I know that [Dietrich] Mateschitz is thinking of selling, a mutual friend told me he'd said, 'Either I convince Audi to come in, or I'm leaving'. And McLaren is in crisis. So Ferrari practically starts every race with a podium in its pocket."

Montezemolo added Ferrari's current power unit and chassis, which have considerably improved this season, started under his management, with technical director James Allison, who was appointed by former team principal Stefano Domenicali, overseeing both departments in 2014.

And he believes that Marchionne and Arrivabene have been unfair not to acknowledge that the foundation for Ferrari's success this season was laid during his tenure last season.

"They have been intelligent in not throwing out the good that had been set up before they came along," Montezemolo said. 

"Maybe if I were them I would not have claimed last December that 2015 would be a revolution, that huge mistakes had been made in preparing for 2015 and that winning a couple of races would be a miracle. But that's water under the bridge."

Meanwhile, Montezemolo has claimed that Michael Schumacher was the first person to recommend the Italian outfit to sign Sebastian Vettel in 2009.

Vettel left Red Bull to join Ferrari this season and has been an instant success, emerging victorious in the Malaysian Grand Prix this season.

Montezemolo claimed that seven-time champion Schumacher had already identified Vettel as the perfect driver for Ferrari back in 2009 following Felipe Massa's accident in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"The first to speak well of Vettel at Ferrari was Schumacher," Montezemolo told La Repubblica newspaper. "It was the summer when he had to get back racing to replace Massa. He said: 'The perfect driver for you is Seb'".