Sebastian Vettel believes the Ferrari Formula 1 team had an unusually good Friday practice performance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and might be closer to Mercedes than normal.
Vettel ended the second session at Yas Marina third, two and a half tenths of a second ahead of the two Red Bulls and within 0.269s of the pace set by Mercedes’ title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
“I think it was a better Friday for us. Actually it was a very good Friday,” said Vettel.
“This morning was a bit trickier with a hot track – we struggled a bit. This afternoon the car calmed down. It was actually quite good.
“I felt quite happy on the long run. I struggled a bit with the fronts early on, maybe I was a little too aggressive but overall the car felt good and I think we should have good pace. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll have a similar feeling in qualifying and put the car where it belongs.”
Vettel stopped on track in the final 10 minutes with a gearbox failure, but the unit was only being used for practice so he will not incur a penalty and said “we got most of the homework done” beforehand.
Although it has mainly been Red Bull tipped to get among the battling Mercedes this weekend, Vettel hopes Ferrari has a shot at an upset, too.
“I don’t want to predict the outcome but I want to have a strong race,” he said. “If it means splitting them, running in front of them, with how the race turns out, that’s good news.
“They are the absolute favorites again this weekend. Nothing’s changed in that regard. The closer you can get, the better it is.”