Having switched from Red Bull to Ferrari ahead of the 2015 season, the four-time world champion says he is realistic about the team's early prospects, and that his focus is on building a platform for success in the long-term.
"There is a lot of change going on, new people in new positions - including myself," Vettel told the official Ferrari website, "so it always takes a bit of time to settle in until you really start to make proper progress.
"I am confident we are going in the right direction but it would be wrong to immediately expect a lot [from] us.
"We need to remember we are coming from a 2014 season where there was one team very dominant, so it will be very difficult to arrive there from the beginning. For us the main target is to start to really work together, start to make progress, hopefully catch up more and more as the season progresses."
Asked if he would be happy should Ferrari score one victory over the coming season, Vettel said: "I think we would be happy - but of course we would be happier if we win more. As I said you have to be realistic.
"I think the most important thing is that we start getting into the groove quickly in winter testing and start to make progress. If the situation is like last year, it will be very difficult to fight for victories, but of course that is our goal. That is why we are here; we are not here to be second."
Vettel's patient approach was echoed by an new team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who said his immediate focus in on pushing the team forward rather than outright targets.
"Obviously we want to be as strong as we can, but it's too early to say where we're going to be," the 2007 world champion said. "As long as we do our things 100 percent, work as one team to push things forward and keep building what we have over the winter, that's the starting point - and then the results should come.
"There's no point from my side to put any goals yet: start from the first test and go forward from there. It will be interesting working with [Vettel], but I'm sure we have a good understanding of each other. The aim is to push the team forward and do everything for Ferrari, and then obviously we try to fight against each other, but in a good way."
Raikkonen said that both he and the team had learned lessons from their lacklustre showing in 2014, adding: "Sometimes you have years that go like that, everything seems to be a bit difficult. We understood a lot of things and hopefully this year we can turn things around, as a team be strong, and get more where we should be little by little."
Between them, Vettel and Raikkonen have claimed five F1 drivers' crowns, 59 Grand Prix victories and 61 poles, making them one of the strongest pairings ever to line up for Ferrari.