Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel reflects on the preparation of the Maranello team ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, saying that the Italian side is “not yet where we would like to be”.
Sebastian Vettel is turning out for his fifth consecutive year with Ferrari as the season’s curtain-raiser edges ever closer. The team appeared to have the quickest car in pre-season testing, stoking hopes that the German will claim his first title for the iconic Italian team. Seb has finished first the last two years in Melbourne, but was dented by the second practice, in which he never seemed to hit top gear.
Despite showing the best form in testing, Sebastian was 0.8secs slower than the Mercedes on both short, qualifying-style runs and longer race-style runs. There is suspicion that the team are withholding their true speed for once the chequered flag waves on Sunday morning, but Vettel was upfront about the preparation and he identified “car feel and handling” as two specific problems ahead of the race at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit: “It probably was a tricky day for everyone,” the 31-year-old said. – “But I think for us we are not yet where we would like to be. Not in terms of lap time, but more in terms of car feel and handling. I think we didn’t really get into the groove and into the rhythm and that’s quite important around here. I’m hoping that tomorrow is a better day. If we can get that confidence and that groove back, there’s a lot of lap time in that round here.”
Mercedes looked the pick of the bunch as Lewis Hamilton headed a Silver Arrows one-two in the second practice. And Mercedes’ performance in today’s practice session shows their claims about lagging behind Ferrari after testing were “bullshit”, according to Sebastian Vettel. During the pre-season tests Lewis Hamilton claimed Ferrari were half a second quicker than Mercedes. However in second practice for the Australian Grand Prix today he out-paced the teams’ rivals by eight-tenths of a second:
“What was all their bullshit about ‘oh we’re in such bad shape’ and so on?” – Sebastian Vettel asked after practice. “I didn’t understand that to be honest.” However he admitted the scale of Mercedes’ advantage was unexpected. “It was a bit of a surprise. They looked really quick. I don’t know if it was just us struggling a bit today or also others. But as a matter of fact I think they were in a league of their own. Maybe everyone else was struggling and then we can turn it around.” – he concluded.