Sebastian Vettel is hoping to build on his season-opening victory in Australia this weekend in Bahrain, with the German feeling his SF71-H is a better car than its 2017 predecessor, even though he knows there is work to be done for it to reach its full potential.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver took advantage of the timing of the virtual safety car to defeat Lewis Hamilton two weeks ago, and heads into Bahrain with some confidence that the car can become a regular race winner in 2018 and battle for the championship with Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
“I think this year we have a better car,” said Vettel, “but we have to make it work at its full potential. At the beginning of the year it is normal that you still have to get to know the car.
“Obviously the time that we have on track to try things is limited, but we have some ideas for here that we are going to try.
“As for myself, I need to do my job and we need to do our job as a team. We only look at ourselves and try to improve and I am confident, as the car has potential.”
However, Vettel is quick to point out that Mercedes do seem to have a significant advantage over Ferrari at this stage of the season, perhaps as much as four-tenths of a second per lap.
“If you look at the pace – testing, first race – it’s pretty clear that Mercedes is fastest, probably with a three, fourth tenths’ gap,” Vettel is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “That’s also what we saw in the race.
“Obviously Lewis was controlling his pace in the beginning and then pushed when he had to. He had, obviously, time in hand. I think that’s the fair answer. And then I think it’s very close behind them.”