Sebastian Vettel admits Ferrari is playing catch-up at the Russian Grand Prix after struggling to match the pace of Mercedes and Red Bull on Friday.
FP1 was a solid start for Vettel as he topped the times by less than 0.1s from Max Verstappen, but Mercedes did not use the hypersoft tire that Vettel had set his best lap on. In the second session, Lewis Hamilton led Valtteri Bottas, with the two Red Bulls third and fourth and Vettel admits it was a tricky day for Ferrari.
“I mean, obviously we looked quite far away from the rest of the field, so not ideal,” Vettel said. “I think (we are) struggling a bit for one lap but also on the long run. I think we went through our tires a bit harder and quicker than the rest, so we need to have a look. But also, just looking at ourselves, it wasn’t a good day in terms of feel for the car. I think there’s more that we need to go through.”
After spinning toward the end of his high fuel stint on hypersoft tires, Vettel was heard asking Ferrari how it wanted him to deal with traffic later on during FP2, but played down his track positioning having an impact on the long-run performance.
“That’s Friday for you — sometimes you have a better Friday, sometimes not. I think for us it wasn’t a particularly clean run in the end, but it was still good enough. As I said, we struggled with the tires with or without traffic. Certainly the traffic doesn’t help, but I think we have some catching up to do.”
While Kimi Raikkonen agreed with his teammate’s assessment, the Finn was also typically blunt when saying he is not concerned by Ferrari’s need to improve.
“We do what we normally do and I don’t understand why people make such a fuss about Friday’s lap times,” Raikkonen said. “It’s like you (media) have nothing else to do, but if you looked at all the Friday lap times you’ll probably see that what you have on Fridays is not always the true picture for the weekend.
“For us it was a very normal day, trying things, doing the normal work for tomorrow and in qualifying we’ll see if we have done enough. It’s not an easy track to go fast in, the last tenths are always hard to come by.”