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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Mercedes could be vulnerable at the start

02 Apr 2016

Having leapt to the top of the timesheets in FP3, it looked like Ferrari might be able to upstage Mercedes in qualifying in Bahrain, but in the end it was left to the Silver Arrows to claim another front row lockout, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen having to content themselves with third and fourth on the grid respectively. But, as Vettel explains, the Prancing Horse is still optimistic of challenging for victory in the race - especially if they can jump their rivals off the line like they did in Australia…

Q: Sebastian, same procedure as in Melbourne: how unsatisfying is the gap to Mercedes?

Sebastian Vettel: Not funny at all! Nothing to laugh about! We are definitely not where we want to be so of course our whole aim is to get the best out of what we have. Actually today was a pretty good day. The car felt super despite that fact that there are still rough spots here and there – be it on the straights or in the corners. We know that there are things to come – unfortunately not tomorrow! (laughs) But in the race things can very fast look different: last year we did very well here as much will depend on the tyres – and how fast they degrade. So hopefully ours will not degrade that fast and hopefully we will have a good start and that we can carry the superb balance of the car into the race. True, that sounds like a lot of variables – so key will be that we will be able to stick to our strategy – and if that includes annoying the two in front, even better!

Q: Your start in Melbourne was phenomenal. Nico Rosberg couldn’t believe that it was possible to brake so late and still stay on the track. Is it possible to copy it here?

SV: My guess is yes. My start was almost perfect and I think Kimi’s as well – but that was also down to the fact that the two front row guys botched theirs – and I don’t think that they will do us that favour again! But what could play to our advantage is that the two will not attack each other so we can be more aggressive. But in the end it’s not our business to think what they will or will not do. We will concentrate on our start – and in the end you understand pretty fast if you have a good one or not. And if somebody else has a better one – then we will try to make good in the race. 

Q: Are there still turbo issues looming over Ferrari?

SV: No, so far we’ve had no issues at all. But of course it will be a pretty long race with significantly higher temperatures – and the fact that only one car made it to the chequered flag in Melbourne is not an ideal situation. We have something new on the car and I believe that this has solved all of our problems – but the race will tell if that is really the case.

Q: When you followed the Mercedes in the last two days did you discover any shortcomings on their car?

SV: Yes, the colour! (laughs)

Q: Nothing else?

SV: No, I have to admit that Mercedes is doing a very good job – as are their two drivers. They are really pushing each other very hard. So no, unfortunately no weaknesses discovered – but we also do have a lot of strengths – and we will exploit them tomorrow.

Q: How would you describe your Q3 performance? Would more have been possible?

SV: I thought that it was pretty good. After the first run I thought that I would be able to squeeze a bit more time out of sector three and when I approached the last corner in the second run and saw that I was ahead I thought that I’d found the time – but that was not the case. I was doing more or less the same time in both runs and that was not enough. I have to say I was surprised to see that the two were able to find time in their last run! Probably they have dawdled in their first run! (laughs)

Q: Will strategy play a major role tomorrow? You’ve talked about the tyre factor. Will you attack right at the beginning to use the warmer temperatures?

SV: That is hard to say. Everything will depend on tomorrow’s conditions. Yes, one degree more or less can make a difference but I’d rather bank on the fact that we did pretty well here last year – and that is what I hope will happen tomorrow.