Sebastian Vettel believes Niki Lauda is overplaying Ferrari’s recent gains after the three-time Formula 1 champion claimed the Scuderia had caught Mercedes in the power stakes.
In a recent interview with Italian magazine Autosprint, Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda suggested since Ferrari introduced its upgraded engine at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, the team had “matched us in terms of power and efficiency.”
Lauda added: “The 20hp advantage we had is now gone. Now we are at the same level of power. We know for certain because of the reference we have.”
Four-time champion Vettel, who has won three races this season with Ferrari following his move from Red Bull, feels Lauda’s remarks are over the top.
“As a fact we are not yet a match otherwise this season would have been very different,” said Vettel. “But I’m very happy with the season so far, the progress we’ve made, and with the things we have in the pipeline for the future.
“Now, Niki usually is not the best one to trust, let’s put it this way. He changes his opinion very quickly. Sometimes what he says makes sense, and other times he doesn’t make any sense. But the more he is talking about us, the better it is for us. He can see maybe we are coming, and that is good news.”
For now, Vettel remains eager at least to finish second in this year’s title race in between Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Vettel failed to help his cause last time out when he endured a wretched Mexican Grand Prix, ultimately crashing his car and causing his first DNF with Ferrari.
“The last race didn’t help, but as long as it’s possible to finish second, then you’d rather do that than finish third,” said Vettel, who now trails Rosberg by 21 points with two races remaining.
“Our target is to at least try and split the Mercedes – split in the right way – and the best way to do that is to just do our job, to try to achieve the maximum, and then we will see what happens on Sunday.”