Vettel: Gap to Mercedes "too big" in China
Sebastian Vettel says his deficit to the Mercedes Formula 1 cars was "too big" in Chinese Grand Prix qualifying, and suggests Ferrari is still unable to replicate its pre-season testing form.
After Ferrari had the upper hand on pure pace in Bahrain, Vettel led the way in the opening practice session at the Shanghai circuit – but Mercedes has had the upper hand since.
Vettel ended up qualifying third behind an all-Mercedes front row, trailing pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas by 0.301s.
Asked about the gap after qualifying, Vettel said: “It’s too big. We’d like it to be the other way round, obviously, but I think we had a decent session.
“It’s important if we can’t beat them to be right behind them, so we have some options tomorrow hopefully.
“On our side I think we were able to improve the car from where we were yesterday so I’m reasonably happy with that, but not entirely happy. I think there was a little bit more. It was a bit tricky today to put the laps together.”
Vettel said Mercedes “seemed to start off from a better place” in qualifying, but hoped to use Ferrari's superior straightline speed to give the Silver Arrows a challenge on Sunday, despite them being “bloody quick in the corners”.
“For us when we get close we have an advantage in a straight line so maybe we can do something there but the race is long. It should be a good day tomorrow.”
Nevertheless, Vettel conceded that Ferrari was still searching for the kind of form that allowed it to initially emerge as the pre-season favourite following two weeks of testing in Barcelona.
“We have a strong platform to work from. We started very well in Barcelona - that was really good, really strong. Since then I think we’ve struggled a little bit to repeat that.
“The past two races we’ve little issues here and there, so you’re not happy and you try to drive around the problems, try to set up the car differently.
“I think we’re getting more and more there, understanding some things related to different tracks. But as I said, the car is strong, so it’s up to us to extract the performance.”
More from Chinese GP qualifying:
Hamilton "experimenting" in qualifying after handling issues
Verstappen explains "quite normal" Gasly Q3 block