Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari should be better than the performance it showed during qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton took pole position as Mercedes locked out the front row in Melbourne, with Vettel over 0.7s adrift in third place. That result comes after a strong pre-season performance from Ferrari that had raised expectations, and Vettel challenged his team to discover why it is struggling more at Albert Park than it did in Barcelona.
“Certainly surprised,” Vettel said. “I think everybody is. I think yesterday we didn’t have a good day. Today felt better but in terms of gap and pace, it was very similar. For sure there’s some homework for us to do to understand.
“I still think we have a great car and we should be better than this — so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
“We’ll see — over 58 laps we have some time to get a proper read of where we are — but certainly Mercedes are the clear favorite if you have such a big gap and comfort throughout qualifying. All the sessions. We’ve got to live with it today but tomorrow is a new day. We’ve done it before, around here especially, so, we’ll see.”
Despite downplaying the favorites tag in pre-season, Vettel admits he was expecting to be closer to Mercedes if not ahead during qualifying at Melbourne.
“It’s difficult to compare. We have something like 10, 15 degrees more ambient, hotter track, different circuit, so overall different conditions — but the car felt really good at testing and probably around here, so far this weekend it didn’t feel as good — yet. As I said, yesterday was a difficult day for us. It was tricky.
“Today felt a bit better — but there’s not an awful lot of time to try different things. Obviously you have to get on with it and the sessions come fast: especially in qualifying, you can’t really change much. If anything, you get a better understanding of maybe where you’re losing out or where it feels uncomfortable.
“So for us, I think, there is still a bit of margin but certainly the gap is there today, and it was a surprise. We didn’t expect it coming here but now it is that way. And, as I said, we focus on tomorrow and don’t worry about the gap now.”