Sebastian Vettel has told Ferrari to focus extracting the maximum potential from its own car and ignore the advantage enjoyed by Mercedes in Friday practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton set the pace in FP2, with comparable supersoft tire runs seeing him finish over 0.8s clear of Vettel. The gap to Kimi Raikkonen was more than a second as Ferrari lost significant time in the power-sensitive final sector, and while teams tend to turn down their power units on a Friday, Vettel says Ferrari needs to maximize its own car and ensure it’s Mercedes’ closest rival if it can’t close the gap.
“It’s turned down; if the others turn it up you are left somewhere in the middle, but it’s pointless to go into details,” Vettel said. “I think we know what we were doing and I don’t think we were trying to do something different to other Fridays.
“We know what the car can do and we need to focus on that and try to get everything out to put us in the best possible position. If we can grasp pole tomorrow, that’s great, but if not we need to be there just right behind and see what happens. It’s a long weekend and today is only Friday. There is a little bit to squeeze out of the car and myself, I’m sure.”
Similar to Russia a week ago, Vettel says there are no obvious weaknesses where Ferrari is lacking at Suzuka but felt there was progress made during the day that gives him reason to be positive about the rest of the weekend.
“I was pretty happy — I think it was pretty good. Obviously it’s a monster lap and you always think there is a bit more here and there. I think we can still improve, and in the end we tried something with the car that managed to give us a bit of a better feeling, so let’s see if we can carry that in to tomorrow and find something else.
“Time will tell (if Ferrari can close the gap), I don’t know. We couldn’t do that today but it doesn’t matter what they do, we look at ourselves and try to get the best from our package.”