Sebastian Vettel insists Ferrari is happy with the improvements it has made with its car during the season despite slipping behind Mercedes in recent races.
Ferrari appeared to have the quickest car during the European season, with Vettel winning at Silverstone and Spa and crashing out of the lead in Germany. However, since Lewis Hamilton won in Italy – overhauling a Ferrari front row lock-out – the defending champion has won comfortably in Singapore and led home a Mercedes one-two in Sochi.
“I don’t think we lost direction,” Vettel said. “We made progress with our cars, the steps that we planned, the steps have been coming.
“Now, you never know where you are in comparison to others. Maybe they have done smaller steps or bigger steps, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure, speaking to all our engineers, that we are where we would like to be or where we wanted to be. Of course you would like to be always further with more performance, but that’s the same for everyone.”
Belgium is the only race Vettel has finished ahead of Hamilton in the past six rounds, but the German says he is not putting any extra pressure on himself despite the growing championship gap.
“I don’t like the ‘now or never’ approach,” he said. “I don’t think there’s much sense in that. I didn’t know it was five out of six, now I know, so the secret before just now has been not to count. No, I think you attack every weekend. Every weekend is different, the track is different, the circumstances are different, so I’m very happy to be here.
“I love this track, it’s my favorite track in the world, so I’d better enjoy it and not spoil it by starting to count the things that are against me and focus on the things that are working for me.”
Ferrari was over half a second off the pace in qualifying in Russia, and Vettel admits there has been little time to investigate if there is any specific reason for the lack of pace last weekend.
“Within a week you can’t do too many things differently, so we hope that the track suits us a bit better and we have a better weekend than in Russia,” he said. “I think we nevertheless managed to get and squeeze everything out of the car. I think in race pace we were hopefully a bit closer – so let’s see where we start off here.”