Sebastian Vettel said that Scuderia Ferrari was “too slow” in comparison to its Formula 1 rival Mercedes AMG Motorsport at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Vettel and team-mate Charles Leclerc failed to trouble race victor Lewis Hamilton and polesitter Valtteri Bottas at the Shanghai International Circuit, with Vettel consigned to finishing 13 seconds behind Hamilton in third.
Early weekend projections suggested that Ferrari had the straightline speed to beat Mercedes, but lacked the performance in the corners enjoyed by Mercedes.
Vettel said that Ferrari cannot be satisfied with its Chinese performance, and is yet to utilise the full potential of the SF90 heading into the European season.
“We are happy we got the podium, but overall we can’t be satisfied because we were too slow today,” said Vettel.
“We were hoping to be in a much better place and be a match for Mercedes, but we were not.
I think we have a good car and we are still not able to unlock its potential completely. We are learning a lot about it and it’s important to do many laps to get a better feeling for it.
“We are getting an ever clearer picture of what we are lacking at the moment, so I think the next few weeks will be important for us, so that we can get on the right road for the coming months.”
The four-time champion lost out to team-mate Leclerc at the start and ran behind the Monégasque driver in the opening stages of the race, before the latter was ordered to let Vettel through in order to aid Ferrari’s pursuit of Mercedes.
A sub-optimal pit strategy left Leclerc to finish in fifth, behind the lead Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen, and leaves Ferrari 57 points behind Mercedes in the Contstructors’ Championship after just three rounds.
Vettel said that both he and Leclerc are “aware” that they are driving with Ferrari’s best interests in mind.
“It was a shame we didn’t manage to finish third and fourth,” Vettel added.
“In terms of calls from our pit wall today, the priority always lies within the team and Charles and I are both aware we are driving for the team.
“We can do our own race but first of all we have to ensure Ferrari is in a position to fight with its rivals.”