Sebastian Vettel insists Ferrari’s 2019 car is not as off the pace as its results suggest, despite Mercedes winning its sixth consecutive race so far this season at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Ferrari looked competitive in pre-season testing and showed similar form at the second round in Bahrain, but was unable to covert a front-row lock-out into finishing in the top two. In Monaco, Vettel finished second to end Mercedes’ run of consecutive one-twos, but he was unable to put pressure on Max Verstappen during the race and was nearly 0.8s off pole position in qualifying, a result the German says is not representative of the car’s true potential.
“It’s just because overall we are lacking downforce, a weakness that we know,” Vettel said. “I don’t think the car is as bad as it looks. The results should be better here and there but it’s very difficult for us to get the car in the window where it is happy. Certainly when we get it in there we’re more competitive but still a way from where we want to be.
“That’s really the key lesson: we need to focus on trying to get the car short-term more in that window. Looking forward for the next three, four, five races, obviously make sure we improve the car, put more grip onto the car so that we can go faster, simple as that.
“But that guy seems to hide fairly well. I don’t know exactly where he is right now, so if you find him, or if you’ve got his number, that grip guy… but we’ve been looking for him for a while. I don’t think there are any secrets we will be able to unveil. As usual, attention to detail and a lot hard work is the only way to get us up.”
With Verstappen picking up a time penalty that promoted Vettel into second place in Monaco, the four-time world champion says Ferrari’s best result of the season does not mask the problems it is facing.
“Good result, but not a good weekend for us … I think the lesson from (Monaco) is that we are not yet where we want to be — the pace isn’t there. I think we sort of tumbled into second place. So we did everything we could but certainly we didn’t have the pace to put the pressure on and go for a bit more.”