Ferrari needs "every single step" to beat Mercedes - Vettel

Sebastian Vettel thinks that the key to Ferrari winning the Formula 1 championship this year is that it keeps improving its car.

Ferrari needs "every single step" to beat Mercedes - Vettel
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H

Although the Maranello team has won two of the first three grands prix of the campaign, Vettel does not feel that its competitiveness provides any guarantees for the rest of the year.

And after a 2016 season that lost momentum when Ferrari failed to make a success of upgrades, Vettel knows that his team has to keep pushing hard to eke out more performance from its SF70H.

Reflecting on the strengths of its 2017 car in Russia on Thursday, Vettel said: "Well, I think we were happy from day one, we could see in Barcelona, we could feel that the car behaved well, we didn't have much to complain about. Since then we were able to improve but it will be key to keep improving.

"Now we've had three races, we've won two out of three so there's a lot of positives. But there is still a long way to go, there's still some things that we must improve, things that we know we can improve. To be honest, we need to look after ourselves and then we'll see what happens."

He added: "I think we're very very happy with where we are, with the races we've had, especially the pace that we've shown, which I think was a match with Mercedes in all three races.

"Two times we had the upper hand on Sunday, which was great, but especially this year I think we need to focus on every single step, to make sure that stay in the hunt, stay in the race, as the cars evolve - that's where I sense and I feel is our focus as a team and my focus."

Russia challenge

While Ferrari has enjoyed an advantage in terms of tyre management so far this year, its strength in this area is unlikely to be much help in Russia this weekend.

That is why Vettel says he would be surprised if Mercedes was not ahead at Sochi, especially judging by the qualifying advantage the reigning world champion still has.

"Not just in qualifying, I think on paper it's been a strong track for Mercedes so they will be very strong - everything else would be a surprise," he said. "But I think and I feel there's also a couple of corners where the car was already good last year.

"The DNA of the car is still in a way similar, even though obviously the rules have changed and the car feels different... there should be, you know, places on the track where we should be strong."

And a predicted one-stop race will also minimise the chances of Ferrari being able to pull off a better strategy call to outsmart Mercedes.

"The less stops you have, the less chance to do something with strategy," he said. "Historically the tyre degradation was quite low here so we'll see. Usually also circuits change a bit year by year, the asphalt changes, so we'll see tomorrow where we are."

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