Sebastian Vettel felt he did everything he could during the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, but he just did not have the pace of either Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas to deny the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team a one-two finish.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver admitted the pace of the SF71H was lacking in comparison to the W09 from Mercedes, and although he had better speed than in Qualifying on Saturday, it was still not enough to better third place.
“Today the feeling with the car was very good and I was able to push, but I just wasn’t as fast as the others,” said Vettel. “Obviously, today it was better than yesterday in terms of pace, but it wasn’t enough to put pressure on our competitors.
“We tried everything and I am happy that we got a podium finish, but obviously this is not the result we were looking for.”
Vettel said as good as his start was he just could not get himself in between Bottas and Hamilton, and although he did get ahead of the latter during the pit stop cycle, the pace of the Mercedes was just too much to keep him from re-passing him.
From then on, he was forced to settle for third, falling another ten points behind Hamilton, meaning with five races of the season remaining, he has a fifty-point deficit to overcome.
“My start was good, but there wasn’t much track space for me and I could go nowhere,” said the German. “After pit stop we were able to overcome Lewis, but he could pull ahead more than us and at the end there was nothing to do.
“We lost some points during the two last races and it doesn’t help, but we have our plan to follow and hopefully we can make some progress in the races to come.
“Maybe the next couple of tracks are better suited for us, we will know when we get there. We need to keep pushing and try; who knows what will happen in the next races.”