Sebastian Vettel is not banking on tire performance being one of Ferrari’s strengths in 2018 despite the performance it showed last year.
Having carried out plenty of tire testing for Pirelli during the 2016 season as the Italian manufacturer prepared for wider tires and harder compounds under new regulations, Vettel hit the ground running with an impressive victory in the Australian Grand Prix. With the Ferrari a more consistent car over the course of the season compared to the Mercedes – Toto Wolff described the championship-winning car as a “diva” – tire management was also helped by that stability.
Asked if he feels Ferrari has had an advantage in terms of the way it looks after its tires, Vettel replied: “Yes and no.
“I think we had good races, we’ve had some bad races, so I don’t know, maybe overall there has been a trend for many years that overall the balance is positive, but we still have to work for it.
“We’ve had races where we’ve had more degradation than others, and if we are in a better shape, then that’s what we want, that’s where we want to be – not saying we take that for granted, but that’s the ambition.
“I think [this coming season] the cars are different, the weight changes slightly, the aerodynamics will be better, I think you will operate the tires also a bit different than what we have now.”
The introduction of the Halo is one of the main factors leading to an increased car weight in 2018, while Pirelli has also produced softer compounds and added the hypersoft and superhard options to its range.
Every 2018 race driver tested the Pirelli range at the end of the 2017 season during the Abu Dhabi tire test, with both Sergey Sirotkin driving for Williams and Charles Leclerc behind the wheel for Sauber prior to confirmation of their respective seats.