Mercedes are still the favourites, says Vettel

Sebastian Vettel thinks it is premature to believe Ferrari is in a position to topple Mercedes just yet – despite its strong performance in Australia a fortnight ago.

The German led the Melbourne race early on after a stunning start and seemed set for victory until the red flag stoppage, after which Nico Rosberg's switch on to medium tyres allowed him to come out on top.

But with Albert Park not having been one of Ferrari's strongest tracks in recent years, it suggests that its form there could be a sign of a full-on challenge for victory in Bahrain this weekend that has normally been a better hunting ground.

Vettel is not getting carried away though, and thinks the uncertain weather allied to the different tyre strategies Ferrari and Mercedes have chosen do not yet put his team in a position to say it is favourite for the win.

"We look the same, so you will see the same Ferrari,” he said. “It will be the same chassis as well. No surprises.

“But I think last year we saw that Australia wasn’t our strongest race, I think this year we were more competitive which I think is natural because I think we are in a better shape this year than we were last year.

“For this race last year we were in quite good shape you could say that this year we should be even a bit closer again. But then again we have different tyres this year.

“The weather is quite a bit different at this point now. So it’s difficult to predict, but we should be fairly competitive. How competitive we will see.

"The favourites are not us unfortunately. We're working very hard to change that, but after the performance we saw in Australia in qualifying and in the race unfortunately the favourites are Mercedes.”

Ferrari has introduced some updates this weekend, including to its diffuser.

Strategy call

Although Ferrari ultimately lost the Australian GP win because it elected to stick with supersofts after the red flag, Vettel thinks it would be incorrect to say it was definitely the wrong choice.

Had the team switched to mediums, it may have found itself unable to get the best from the rubber and beaten anyway by Mercedes.

Reflecting on what happened, Vettel said: “I think it’s always easy to play Captain Hindsight but I think what we did at that time was what we thought was right.

“Obviously after the race it’s always easier to see what everyone did and when you see how certain tyres behave, how the medium behaved, the soft behaved, the supersoft etcetera.

“You could argue if we had the same chance again and the knowledge of what we had after the race we could try something different, but then again, I think, we did what we thought was best. We took that risk, it didn’t work, we wanted to attack.

“Obviously when you lead that race at that point and then finish third then you can say it didn’t work. That’s the decision we took.

"I was very happy and was one of the ones that put that forward to go the supersoft, and that's what we decided for.”

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Sebastian Vettel
Teams Ferrari
Article type Breaking news