Sebastian Vettel said the gap between Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG Motorsport is far from ideal, but the German was relatively happy to qualify third on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon.
Vettel was more than seven-tenths of a second down on the record-breaking pole lap set by reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and although the changes made between Friday practice and Saturday’s running made the car better, it was not enough to be a genuine threat for pole position.
“Starting tomorrow’s race from third is not too bad and the car is ok, even if it’s not exactly how we would like it and we are not as fast as we wanted to be,” said Vettel, who had been favourite for pole position and victory before the weekend began due to the strong pace seen during pre-season testing.
“But we’ll start from there and see what we can bring home. This track is unique and conditions are different to what we experienced in testing. We have definitely improved the car overnight, but obviously not enough to be in front of everyone.”
Vettel says he will be looking to understand his SF90 more during Sunday’s race but despite being well adrift of Mercedes in Qualifying, he hopes to be more competitive to challenge for his third consecutive Australian Grand Prix victory.
“In tomorrow’s race we’ll have time to understand the car further,” said Vettel. “We will race as hard as we can and see where that takes us.
“After all, we are just 16 metres behind pole position.”