Sebastian Vettel claims the race pace showed by Mercedes is not representative running because the defending champions used only one type of tire during pre-season testing in Barcelona.
While it was Ferrari that led the way in terms of the overall lap times posted during testing – with Vettel fastest ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen on the hypersoft tire – Mercedes impressed with its race simulations, using the medium tire and showing strong high fuel performance. However, when asked for his point of view on the race pace shown by Ferrari’s rivals, Vettel replied: “Our competitors – Mercedes and Red Bull – used one type of tire for their race distance simulations, which is something you can’t do in a Grand Prix. This has an impact on the strategies and ultimately on the result.
“I can’t wait to be in Australia, because once we get on track there, we will all be driving and racing under the same conditions. And, as I said before, I have confidence in our car.”
With Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton struggling with blistering on the soft compound tires at times during testing, Vettel hinted such an issue could be used to try and get tire selections for races that are more favorable to Mercedes.
“I think it’s quite normal that, after the first few days of testing, every team tries to get the tire supplier to go in the direction that suits their car best. We think Pirelli has done a good job with their compound selection.”
The four-time world champion is happy with the position Ferrari is in heading into the first race in Melbourne, saying the 2018 car provides a solid platform to work with.
“I think we’re starting from a good base with our SF71H car. Now we’ll have to work on development to further explore and improve its potential. I have a lot of confidence in our team – I know how skilled and committed the guys in Maranello are.”