Sebastian Vettel saw rival Mercedes grab another front row lock-out at Barcelona, as he was left trailing pole position man Valtteri Bottas by 0.866 seconds as he took third place on the grid.
But although aware that Mercedes had the edge in single-lap pace, he has suggested that a different approach his team has taken with its newly updated car may yet pay dividends in the race.
“We tried a lot of stuff yesterday and again today, different directions and we ended up getting the best out of the car today which wasn’t enough,” he explained.
“We are certainly not satisfied but I am very happy with the approach, with the chance that we took in terms of trying something daring: something that ultimately it will pay off, maybe not today at least, but hopefully it will help us in terms of pace for tomorrow. And hopefully it sets us off in the right direction for the next couple of weeks.”
Sebastian Vettel said he was surprised at the scale of the Mercedes advantage, which he thinks has been exaggerated by the fact that his Ferrari is struggling in Barcelona’s tight final sector.
“Coming here we did not expect [the Mercedes gap] , but I think also we seem lose quite a big amount of time in the last sector,” he said – “It is quite clear we seem to be faster down the straights, so probably we carry a little bit less wing than them. But in the last sector there are no straights and we are struggling a little bit to bring it together. It is not a very long sector with quite some corners, and mostly lower speed, and that is where we seem to be losing the most time. There is definitely some homework, we know this track very well, everybody does, but with the conditions today we were just to able to match them.”
While the showing in Barcelona is in stark contrast to the pace Ferrari had in winter testing, Sebastian thinks that nothing dramatic has changed – and his team just needs to understand how to get more pace from its 2019 challenger. We need to dig deep,” he said. “Now is not the first time we are losing out and not the second time nor the third time. It is a consistent trend that we seem to lose, in some places, independent of conditions, sunshine, clouds, tyres and compounds and so on. There is a bit more for us to understand but if we had the solution surely it would be on the car already.” – the German driver concluded.