Sebastian Vettel: “I think we can improve the car”

Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel described Friday as “bad news” for the team after seeing Mercedes AMG-Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton enjoy a four tenths advantage in Free Practice two at the Circuit de Catalunya ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Vettel was the best of the rest behind reigning world champion Hamilton but had a big slide on his first timed lap on the medium compound on a day drivers across the grid complained about grip. Vettel managed to split the Mercedes drivers but Hamilton’s impressive lap time of a 1m26.582s suggests he is favourite for pole position on Saturday afternoon.

In FP1, Mercedes had shown some ominous long-run pace on the hard compound and by the afternoon Vettel was echoing the statement he made about Mercedes’ advantage on Thursday in his interview today but believes that the team can still improve the car still.

“I think we can improve the car, yes,” Vettel said to ESPN F1. “I think the gap was about four tenths but a bit more if you look at the whole day. I haven’t looked at the long runs but the gap is still there – that’s the bad news for us.”

When asked if the deficit was not more down to the slide he had on his first option tyre run, Vettel replied as follows:  “Yeah, I did, but everyone had a bit of a slide.  It was not the perfect lap but hopefully I’m saving that for tomorrow. Maybe we could have got a bit closer, I don’t know if Lewis’ lap was perfect. With everyone sliding so much it’s quite normal.”

Though he struggled with grip in both Friday sessions, Vettel expects the track to improve in time for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

“Well, it always helps when cars go round,” added Vettel. “I think everyone completed a lot of laps today so it will improve. Largely conditions will remain the same, they’re saying it’s a bit cooler on Sunday so maybe that helps everyone.

“Overall it’s fairly straightforward, the medium is the faster tyre. But pretty slippery today for all the cars, you saw that everyone was a little bit all over the place. Grip seems to be very low, but nothing abnormal. We’ve seen that across many years now – when we come from the winter, usually the track in the summer is a bit slow.”