With the Italian outfit having fallen away from the pace-setting Mercedes outfit, it is under no illusions about the effort that is going to be required to get back in contention.
But with a raft of cost-cutting measures having been introduced that limit the changes teams can make to cars, Ferrari is resigned to being unable to respond in the short term.
Elkann, speaking at length to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport about Ferrari's form, suggests that it will not be until new rules come into play in 2022 that it can target returning regularly to the front.
"[Ferrari is going] through a difficult period that starts far back," he said. "We have not won a constructors' world championship since 2008 nor a drivers' one since 2007.
"There has been Red Bull's winning cycle thanks to aerodynamic capacity and then Mercedes for their great ability in hybrid engine technologies.
"This year we are not competitive thanks to project errors. We have had a number of structural weaknesses that have existed for some time in aerodynamics and in the dynamics of the vehicle. We have also lost out in engine power.
"The reality is that our car is not competitive. You saw it on the track and you will see it again.
"Today we are laying the foundations for being competitive and returning to winning when the rules change in 2022. I am convinced of this."
Elkann suggests that the chassis freeze, which prevents teams making major changes to their cars over the next two years, is a major factor in why it cannot recover faster.
Asked how much it penalises Ferrari, he said: "A lot, given that we have started off poorly.
"We must be realistic and aware of the structural weaknesses with which we have been living for a decade, and which the transition to hybrid [power units] has underlined.
"We have given the okay to the new rules that will start from 2022, because we believe it is right that there is greater competitiveness within F1.
"We do not see the limitation of budget caps as a constraint on our ability to win. We take it as a challenge.
"Our engineers, our mechanics and our drivers will find strength and creativity within those bonds to bring Ferrari back up. Personally I have never seen in the last 10 years such a cohesive and strong spirit."
While Elkann's view on how long it will take to recover may not be what Ferrari fans want to hear, he says it is important the team was transparent about its situation.
"The fans are suffering as much as we are, but we know they are close to us," he said. "This is why it is important to be clear and honest with them. A long path awaits us.
"When [Jean] Todt opened that historic cycle [of titles] in 2000, we came from a fast that had lasted for over 20 years from 1979. It took time from him landing in Maranello in 1993 to Ferrari's return to success.
"The important thing then is to work on the track and off the track, in a cohesive way, building the Ferrari we want to step-by-step."
Elkann has also emphasised that he has complete faith in team principal Mattia Binotto, despite the early season struggles.
"Total trust," he said. "Also because Mattia Binotto, who has taken the helm of the Scuderia for a year, has all the skills and characteristics to start a new winning cycle. He was in Ferrari with Todt and Schumi.
"He knows how to win and from next year he will work with two drivers who are young and ambitious like us."