Sebastian Vettel is confidence Ferrari has “a lot of potential to unleash” in its 2018 car as it looks to overhaul Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton in the second part of the season.
Last year, Vettel led the drivers’ championship by 14 points heading into the summer break, but Hamilton hit back with consecutive victories in Spa and Monza before taking advantage of Ferrari errors to seal a fourth drivers’ championship with two races to spare. Mercedes also wrapped up the constructors’ championship in Austin last year, but Vettel is not expecting a repeat this season despite trailing Hamilton by 24 points.
“As we’ve seen this year the pendulum seems to swing once this side, once that side,” Vettel said. “Obviously if it’s like this, consistency is the key. Scoring points. I didn’t do myself a favor [crashing out of the lead in Germany] but I think it’s part of racing. Stuff happens.
“Compared to last year, we lost the championship because our car wasn’t quick enough to be a match in the final part of the season, despite what happened with the DNFs.
“I think this year has shown so far that our car is more efficient, our car is stronger and still has a lot of potential to unleash, so I’m quite confident with what’s sitting in the pipeline that we can improve. We’ll see. Should be an exciting second part of the year.”
While rueing his mistake in Hockenheim that cost him the chance of victory, Vettel says Mercedes has been overplaying Ferrari’s pace even if he’s encouraged by recent performance improvements.
“Obviously [Germany] was a disaster if you look at the result and what it could have been,” he admitted. “Now it’s like that, I can’t rewind the clock and I’m happy to look forward. I think we have a car that we can fight with. I can understand from the other side that maybe the want to push that we’re dominant, but I think we are a long way off dominance.
“We were able to get back. In France we got whipped – they were faster than us – and then within two or three races we were able to get back and be a match.
“I’m quite confident if we have the speed and can improve our car from where we are, then we should be in the mix and in the fight. So I’m happy with how the season went so far, and I believe there’s more to come.”