Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2019

Vettel: Mercedes are not as far behind as they say

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel is convinced Mercedes will be in the hunt for victory at the Australian Grand Prix despite the team downplaying its performance in testing.

Lewis Hamilton, Vettel’s title rival of the last two seasons, said during testing he believes Ferrari has as much as half a second in hand over them. But asked if Mercedes are as far behind as they claim Vettel said: “I don’t think so.

“They looked very strong in the second week [of testing], not just one run, all the runs. I don’t know what they were doing the first week, to be honest, they probably could have stayed at home.

“But I think they will be very strong. They will fight for pole [and] fight for the win this weekend.”

However Vettel admitted his new Ferrari has felt “very good” so far.

“All the hard work seems to have paid off. We will see if that’s true, we’re here to confirm. But so far the car felt very good.

“I don’t think we really know where we are. We expect to be in good shape but I think it will be very close between the top three teams. We’ll see.”

After five seasons without a championship, Vettel joked he is “starving” to win another title after finishing runner-up to Hamilton in 2017 and 2018.

“Of course the way Formula 1 works is that the winner is great and did everything right and if you finish second it means nothing. Unfortunately [that’s] something I experienced now I think twice in a row.

“[But] still there were lots of positive elements the last years. I think the team is growing. It would be wrong to turn the page and say ‘now this year everything is different and the last years were horrible’. That would be the wrong approach.

“I think there’s a lot of things that we did great, some things we didn’t, and those are the things we need to change. But I’m positive. I think this year we have a new chance, the team is fired up, so here we go again, I’m happy to step in the car and go racing.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Vettel: Mercedes are not as far behind as they say”

  1. It does feel like it could be Ferrari’s year finally. Leclerc should help relieve the pressure on Vettel, presuming he stays true to remaining number two this year at least, Ferrari can’t surely make all the mechanical and strategic errors of the past two years again, and surely Seb has learned something about not spinning on contact. Surely…

  2. I certainly don’t believe it is half a second either, but I would also be surprised if Mercedes got pole AND was able to keep the lead for the duration of the race. Feels like they might not even get pole, but we’ll only know when we know.

    1. I would also be surprised if Mercedes got pole AND was able to keep the lead for the duration of the race

      I wouldn’t be surprised at all, and I’m expecting them to walk away with that Extra point too.

  3. I do think Ferrari are ahead but at most by 0.150, if Merc were really half a second shy Lewis would be a bit more despondent that he isn’t in with a shout of winning the first race. But he seems very upbeat so the gap if there is one isn’t worth very much at all.

  4. I believe Ferarri is perhaps .2sec ahead at the winter test track. Not sure how that will translate to other tracks. Close enough that they will have to fight for every win, and fight the development war as well. Small errors and luck are really going to be importatnt to the teams.

  5. I think the difference in pace will be down to Ferrari being able to dial in the Pirelli tyres better than the Mercedes. At peak performance, I think Mercedes are close, but Ferrari has tended to be easier to set up.

  6. I have learnt not to waste a lot of time listening to Ferrari preseason pr it tends to always shoot them in the foot once we are underway. I believe the champions are still the team to beat this year…

    1. I have learnt not to waste a lot of time listening to [any team’s, or the FIA’s, or Liberty’s] preseason pr…

      FTFY, :)

  7. only after qualifying on saturday will we know the speed. and on sunday will we know the overall performance. testing is testing. and ofcause after the first few races. if its close between ferarri and merc then it wil be like last year lets kewp fingers crossed

  8. The good thing about Ferrari is that they are making progress each year. Looking at pre season testing it seems the upward trend will not change this year as well.

    1. Shame other teams do that too, innit :)

      1. It seems mercedes is not one of them as the gap between them and Ferrari is decreasing with each passing year :). If you check the past seasons which other team were dominating like 2002 2003 2004 & 2010 2011 2012 you may understand the difference.

  9. asked if Mercedes are as far behind as they claim Vettel said: “I don’t think so.”

    In other news, gras appears to be green

  10. Vettel’s right and anyone that has paid attention to the past knows Mercedes is always poor mouthing themselves and pretending they’re going to be in trouble. I really do hope they’ll suck, I want them slower than Williams, but we all know Hamilton could just as easily win this race by 20 seconds.

    1. @jblank, is there any particular reason why you seem to so frequently post in such a bitter and vindictive manner? It seems that most of your posts are filled with a angry desire to see somebody else suffer – it’s always “I hope they suck” or “I hate this and I hope that it fails”.

      It begs the question of whether there is anything in motorsport that you love at all, as all you ever seem to do is to want to tell others about how much you hate something. It would be nice if we could hear something from you that is not filled with cheap shots or showing an obsessive desire to tell everybody about how much you hate something.

      1. Dino (@dinodoubledown)
        14th March 2019, 23:32

        anon, that was very kind of you. (LOL)

    2. @jblank Lets be honest, Vettel threw the WDC away in 2017 and 2018. Especially over the 2018 season it’s staggering how many points Vettel threw away (and handed to Hamilton).

      In 2018 Mercedes really were in trouble, but Hamilton not making mistakes and Vettel making tons of mistakes, gave Merc/Hamilton the titles.

      1. @f1osaurus

        Merc were really in trouble in 2018? I am sure you have evidence to back this up? Or was it Hamiltons sheer will that pulled the W09 to a double? Vettel did not hand anything to Hamilton, The only thing Vettel threw away was he’s brain in 2018.

        1. @chikano Evidence? Didn’t you see Vettel fail in almost half the races? An analysis on motorsport-total showed that Vettel would have won the WDC with 54 points in front instead of the 88 points deficit. If only he hadn’t made all those mistakes.

          But if you want “evidence”:
          AZE he flew off the road after the restart and finished only in P4 instead of P1
          FRA Crashed into Bottas first corner. Should have been at least P2, but managed only P5
          AUT landed himself a completely unnecessary grid penalty (impeding). Otherwise he would have won. P3 instead.
          GER Fastest car all weekend. Puts it in the wall. 0 points instead of P1 plus the SC he caused helps Hamilton win the race.
          ITA Fastest car all weekend. Too impatient first lap. Crashes into Hamilton. P4 instead of P1
          JPN Just kept on spinning in Q3 and crashes into Verstappen during the race
          USA Again gets himself a completely unnecessary grid penalty (speeding under red flag) and again crashed into someone (Ricciardo) and again scored only a P4 instead of P1

          First of all, Vettel would have easily won AZE, AUT, GER, ITA and USA if he didn’t make mistakes in those races. Further mistakes in FRA and JPN which he could have at least been in P2 or P3, but due to all the errors there he ended up only in 5th and 6th.

          Then there are races like HUN and SIN where Ferrari had the fastest car all weekend and then their drivers failed in Q3.

          Ferrari had the car to easily win the championships. Especially for their #1 driver who also has the benefit off Raikkonen being used as a sacrificial strategic lamb the whole season.

          1. @f1osaurus

            I asked for evidence on where you say Merc were “really” in trouble, not for Vettel’s brain farts. So your “evidence” you provided went the same direction as Ferrari’s car development.

          2. @chikano Wellk they were “in trouble” because Ferrari had the faster car. They could not know that Vettel would keep on throwing away points.

            How difficult is it to understand something that simple?

            Ferrari’s car development error is utter nonsense too. They had maybe 2 races where this was an issue and it was barely an issue too. The 142 points which according to Motorpsort-total Vettel lost them was the reason they lost it just like last year.

  11. Vettel’s Ferrari may not be in front of the Silver Arrows by much but I’m pretty convinced HAM and BOT won’t see Leclerc at all this Sunday!

    1. @francorchamps17

      I concur sir. . . When you in front you don see much of what is behind

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