Sebastian Vettel said that his podium in the Hungarian Grand Prix will serve as a consolation prize for Scuderia Ferrari heading into Formula 1‘s summer break.
Vettel took third place after a late overtake on team-mate Charles Leclerc at the Hungaroring, but finished just over a minute behind race victor Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari brought aerodynamic upgrades to Hungary in a bid to add downforce to the SF90, but could not match the Mercedes AMG Motorsport and Red Bull Racing packages in qualifying or the race.
Vettel said that Ferrari’s pace deficit was not a surprise, its podium finish aided by early misfortune for the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and the lack of pace from Verstappen’s team-mate Pierre Gasly.
The German tried a long opening stint on the medium compound tyres before switching to soft tyres on lap 39 of 70, allowing him to pass Leclerc with four laps to go with a bold move on the inside of Turn 1.
“For a few weeks we can console ourselves with the fact that we made it to the podium in a race in which we knew we were going to struggle,” said Vettel.
“Today, we simply could not match the pace of our rivals.
“In terms of strategy, the idea was to come up with something different to try and do better than fourth.
“I managed to extend the first stint to 39 laps and that allowed me to fit softs and have a stronger pace than Charles in the closing stages.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto is confident that the team has improved its package in the corners, but Vettel says that there is more work to be done.
But Vettel believes that Ferrari can pose a bigger threat to Mercedes and Red Bull in the first two races of the summer break in Belgium and Italy to round off the European season and potentially claim a first win of the 2019 season.
“Now we can recharge our batteries and prepare to battle once more in Spa and Monza, tracks where we ought to be more competitive,” Vettel added.
“We know there is still some performance to come from the SF90 and we have to work on that, but I am convinced that there is a margin to get better results.”