Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari’s 2018 car “has huge potential” after taking a somewhat fortunate victory in the Australian Grand Prix.
Starting from third on the grid, Vettel struggled to make progress as polesitter Lewis Hamilton led Kimi Raikkonen, with the Mercedes appearing the quicker car. However, having run long on his first stint, a well-timed Virtual Safety Car allowed Vettel to leapfrog the two cars in front and then hold off Hamilton to win the opening race of the season.
Despite the result, Vettel acknowledges there are a number of areas Ferrari can still improve to be able to show better outright speed in future.
“I think the car has huge potential,” Vettel said. “I’m still struggling a little bit. If we compare to where we are still a bit weak, we also feel that the car is not yet there. When you’re talking about something that you miss in the car as a driver, the car doesn’t respond the way you like, it’s sliding in places you don’t want to to slide.
“I want the car to be spot on when I hit the brakes and turn in and in that window I’m not yet happy, so it’s always sort of a compromise. Of course it’s our job to drive around the problems that we have. But if I could choose, then I would like a little difference and yeah, it’s not big drama. I think we can live with it. But I feel that when we get on top of that then you feel more confident.”
Vettel says not having full confidence in the car translates into significant lap time on a temporary circuit such as Albert Park.
“On a track like [Melbourne] when you have confidence it makes a big difference. I think [Sunday] was quite windy, very gusty, so you always try to push but at the same time you need to be a bit safe, as you don’t want to throw it away and that’s exactly where it makes the difference.
“If you have the confidence and you trust the car, you don’t think for a second and you just go out and do it. Let’s hope that we need to think less the next races.”