Ferrari failed to deliver on their pre-season testing promise during qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel and new team mate Charles Leclerc forced to settle for third and fifth on the grid respectively as Mercedes dominantly locked out the front row. Not ideal. But Vettel is feeling optimistic…
Vettel and Ferrari played a blinder with strategy last year in Melbourne to stun the Silver Arrows and steal victory for the second successive year. And it’s those impressive performances that give Vettel hope he can reach the top step again, despite the Scuderia's deifict in qualifying.
“Of course, I think we can [win],” he said. “You never know what’s happening. Last year we got a bit lucky but the race is over when there’s the chequered flag. I think we have a good car, we have a good race car and we are in good form.
“Obviously Mercedes are the clear favourites after the result today and the pace they have shown so far. But we are here to race. Otherwise it would be quite dull. I think all the people would agree.
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day. We’ve done it before, around here especially, so, we’ll see. Our starts are pretty handy, so we’ll go from there.”
Sebastian Vettel: 'Surprised' at gap to Mercedes
Ferrari ended up seven tenths of a second adrift of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton at Melbourne’s Albert Park, which was something of a surprise given how strong the SF90 looked during two weeks of testing at Barcelona. So where is the Ferrari lacking?
“I think a little bit of everything,” said Vettel, who admitted on Friday he hadn't found the groove. “I don’t think the straight-line [speed] is a problem so I think we are quite competitive down the straights but I think we’re just losing in the corners. There are 16 corners around here and I think it’s a fairly even spread and so far it was more in the medium and lower speed stuff rather than the high speed stuff [where we struggled].
“I haven’t got the balance yet which maybe I would like to have, especially in lower speed, and not the confidence and trust which again, around here, can make a big difference because it’s a bumpy track and I hope they don’t resurface it because it’s part of the character of this track.”
Vettel won last year’s race from third on the grid, where he starts this year, and will take heart from the fact the pole-sitter has only won one of the last seven races in Melbourne.
Qualifying: Vettel runs extremely wide at Turn 11