Sebastian Vettel finished second fastest on day three of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and felt that the performance levels of the 2017 cars are similar to that seen in Formula 1 a decade ago.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver set a best time of 1:19.952 to finish just 0.247 seconds down on pacesetter Valtteri Bottas despite being on the soft compound Pirelli tyre compared to the Ultrasoft of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver.
Vettel says the SF70H was fun to drive around the Catalan track despite them being a much more physical challenge, and that they are very different to drive than their predecessors.
“A lot, but never enough. That’s what testing is for, to give you an idea,” said Vettel. “And the idea is that these cars, as a result of the new regulations, are very different to last year, in the way they look and in the way of driving them.
“We are more or less at the performance levels of ten years ago, with a lot of aerodynamic downforce, but also with quite a lot more weight. They are also more physical and at the end of the day, you feel tired, but this is normal for the first outing since the winter break.
“The tyres are also different and they behave more consistently. We have seen more or less what we expected: the cars are quicker in the corners and slower down the straights, because of the drag. But they are also great fun to drive.”
Vettel says that is too early to find out the true potential of the car despite showing good pace during all three days of the test so far, with a lot of work still to be done in order to be competitive in the first race of the season in Australia.
“It’s too early to understand the available potential: we focused on our programme, without paying the slightest attention to what the other teams were doing,” said Vettel. “All winter we have prepared so as to get here in the best possible shape.
“But there are still around four weeks to go to the first race and there is much work to do, so much in our programme. The stop towards the end doesn’t bother me: we were trying something that didn’t work, that’s all.”