Sebastian Vettel says that balance issues held Ferrari back on the first day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix and expects the team to get closer to Mercedes from FP3 onwards
After a rather quiet opening session, Vettel was 0.547s adrift of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in FP2 and many were surprised at the size of the gap to the pace setting Mercedes after such a strong winter for Ferrari. But Vettel says time lost in FP1 and the balance issues they had meant they were not as fully up to speed as they should have been and that the SF70-H should get quicker from Saturday morning.
“The balance wasn’t yet where I want it to be, so I think we can still do a decent step forward. This morning was not so good, we had some small issues that caught me out. But the team is doing well. I think we have a lot of things that we can improve. The balance is not so good yet, but I’m sure we can work on that overnight. We had some small troubles this morning that cost us some lap time, so it took a bit longer to get into the groove. The car still doesn’t yet feel as good as it should and it can.”
Testing in Barcelona went incredibly well for Ferrari and Vettel suggested much more was to come from the new car before the first qualifying session of the year.
“People from outside make up their own opinion, no matter what you tell them. “Obviously, we’ve been very happy in testing, the times looked good, but it doesn’t mean anything. You come here and that’s when it matters, we were realistic about that. Today was OK, the car feels good and it hasn’t changed much, it was only two weeks ago that we got out of the car. We can still improve.”
Teammate Kimi Raikkonen shared Vettel’s feelings after he had a messy Friday himself, and knows that improvements should help the Scuderia.
“Nothing was as clean as we wanted and we have things to improve. We have to look at the big picture, this is the first day and everybody will go for tomorrow. It’s hard to say from today where we’re going to be against Mercedes, but we have to improve in a few areas and then we will see.”
The good news though is the car does indeed seem to be very, very quick. Perhaps with the balance issues sorted they can at least be on a par with Mercedes. And that will certainly improve prospects for an exciting race this weekend.