Sebastian Vettel said he would not rule out Ferrari finding a way past Mercedes on Sunday if the strategy was there for them to do something different.
The Ferrari driver won by eight seconds last year after making one stop less than both Mercedes drivers when his car was kinder on its tyres in the Malaysian heat. He remained realistic about this year’s race with the edge that Mercedes seem to consistently have on their rivals but said if the chance is there his team should be quick to take it.
“I think if the chance is there we have to go for it, but we are realistic and we have seen Mercedes very strong today on both short and long runs. We are pretty happy with our short run, the long run, I haven’t seen much of what the other people did, but I think we can improve, especially getting the car more together. But I’m confident that we will find a little bit here and there.”
The quadruple world champion acknowledged that Ferrari were in a position to win a few times this race but they missed the strategy, with Australia and Canada the most crucial failures from the pit wall. Ferrari also lost a podium finish with Kimi Raikkonen at Singapore a fortnight ago when they reacted to Lewis Hamilton’s late pit stop.
“I think we had a couple of races that arguably we could have won and we didn’t, so in that regard we didn’t do a great job. But now we are looking forward and we have six races where we will try to do our best.”
Ferrari and Red Bull are locked in a battle for second in the constructor’s championship and Vettel said it is still unclear who has the edge on race pace.
“They look very strong on the medium but I don’t know what happened to them on the softs. I think we have seen the last couple of races it is pretty close between us and Red Bull and Mercedes seems to have a bit of an edge.”
“I haven’t used the hards but for sure you have more grip on the softs, so it’s the preferred tyre. We need to see what other people did to see what type of strategy we favour for Sunday.”
He also spoke favorably of the new track surface, despite being among many drivers who did not enjoy the re-profiled final corner.
“I think it’s a step forward. It’s always nice to have more grip and that seems to be the case. The last corner is a bit trickier, being off camber, but all in all I think it’s a step forward.”
Image via Twitter – Scuderia Ferrari