Ferrari driver and four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel has rejected claims by Lewis Hamilton that Ferrari is the favourite for the title heading into the 2017 season.
It’s not easy topping the charts, is it? The moment you clamber your way to the peak, you’ve got the attention of everyone below you – hurling comments and speculation at you without a moment’s rest. It would take something akin to the sheer discipline, resolve, and determination of a four-time Formula One World Champion to weather such a storm.
Vettel rejected claims made by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton that they were the team to beat. Ferrari has reaped an incredible performance for the developmental work they’d sown over the winter break, emerging on top once more during the penultimate test at Barcelona, turning technical heads as the SF70H was wheeled out. Even Adrian Newey was a bit taken aback by the full package Ferrari have created. Before turning the attention to the road ahead, Vettel did take a minor jab at Hamilton’s accusation of sandbagging, claiming that it was something the Silver Arrows practice on a historic basis:
“If you look at the amount of laps Mercedes has done, if you look historically how slow they go in the testing, how much they were able to ramp it up for the races…it’s clear.
They’re very fast if you look at their long-run pace. They’re the ones to beat.
For us it doesn’t really matter where exactly we are now, we are growing, we need to work hard, we know that we have to improve. That’s why it’s important not to get distracted right now.”
– Sebastian Vettel
Vettel went on to directly answer Hamilton’s claims of intentional slowing:
“It’s not always intentional. We’re trying to run through our programme, sometimes you go a bit faster, sometimes a bit slower. You could see this morning what we’re trying to do, we’re going faster than the rest of the week and last week. It’s pretty clear.
It doesn’t really matter here, if you look at one single laptime – you need to look at more than that, and in that regard there’s still a lot of work to do.”
– Sebastian Vettel
It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the hubbub surrounding the pre-season test. For sure, there are a lot of starved fans that have grown emaciated over the long dark and have now emerged out of their caves with their hungry eyes set on racetrack drama. Alas, they’ll have to wait until the season proper for their feast.