Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says the new SF1000 is quite draggy down the straights, but he can feel ‘a good chunk’ of extra speed through the corners.
Sebastian Vettel’s pre-season came to an end on Thursday evening, having clocked up 145 laps of Catalunya throughout the day. Ending the day as the quickest man, Vettel’s thoughts now turn to Australia for the opening race of the season, but the German driver isn’t optimistic that the team head there as favourites.
He says he can clearly feel a step forward in weak areas from last year, but isn’t sure how much of a performance gain there is overall: “The car feels better, sector three feels better, but it comes with a trade. We are slower than we want down the straights as we are a bit draggy but we’re aware of that.”
“Our objective was to get more downforce on the car which I think we did.” Vettel continued. “The third sector feels better, but getting out of the last chicane and down to turn one doesn’t feel as good as last year. But very hard to tell from in the car, but in the corners you can feel the difference in where we’ve improved. It looks like others are a bit faster, but that’s where we are I guess. We’ve work to do, but that’s how we tackle it. We are a strong team, the season hasn’t started yet and we’ll see how we are in Australia and get the season started.”
Vettel acknowledged that there might be a small amount of ensuring the team are keeping their cards close to their chest, saying: “Normally in testing, you don’t show all your hand. You try to do it when nobody is watching or when people can’t read the laps. We knew the car is more draggy and measured it being more draggy, but we’re quite a bit faster in the corners by quite a chunk.”
“There’s no secrets, no need, some people are probably showing what they’ve got but that doesn’t matter too much. With six days of running, you know roughly where you’re at. Come Australia, things might look different. After two races, we should have a good picture and then take it from there. We’re not top of the timesheets and probably not favourites but let’s see.”
Asked about whether he had confidence in the overall race pace of the car after tackling a race simulation on Thursday afternoon, Vettel said it had been disrupted by the red flag for Lewis Hamilton’ technical problem and the poor conditions.The team are hoping to do another simulation on Friday: “The wind was very intense and uncomfortable in the car. Not the best day to have a good read, but we didn’t have any problems so. The red flag didn’t help with testing the car, but Charles will have the same programme tomorrow so hopefully he’ll get a clean run and better conditions and we can tell a bit more than today. It was quite clear what we tried to do today, simulating the short runs in the morning and just before lunch.”