Sebastian Vettel is envisaging a similar relationship with Lewis Hamilton in 2018 as he maintains Mercedes is the team to beat this season.
Hamilton and Vettel engaged in a close championship battle for much of last year, with the fight boiling over in Azerbaijan when the Ferrari driver deliberately hit his rival behind the safety car. The pair will go head-to-head for a fifth drivers’ title this year, and when asked how he sees the relationship with Hamilton panning out, Vettel replied: “Pretty much the same.
“I think Mercedes is the favorite so if we can be close – very close, closer than last year – that would be great, and then we see from there. It’s a long year. It’s March. We keep going until the end of November, so it’s a long time from here until the end of the season.”
With Ferrari making a major step from 2016 to 2017 as it closely fought with Mercedes at the start of the season, Vettel says the lack of warm conditions to test in this week has made it difficult to understand whether similar progress has been made with the SF71H.
“Anything is possible. But I think to answer your question, I don’t know the answer yet. So far, things have been looking OK, but there has been very limited running for everyone, so it’s very difficult not just for yourself to judge but also to judge compared to the others. To be honest, though, it’s not that important in the first week. You just want to make sure the car is running. But that’s been tough as well because there wasn’t that much running.
“Not much [learned] yet. I think an initial good first impression of the car… and the winter jackets! [The hope in test two is] to get rid of the winter jackets! And more running clearly, I think for everyone to get a bit more in the groove. It’s the only testing we have before Australia, so ideally a lot of laps and a good feeling.”