Sebastian Vettel has expressed optimism that a “daring” approach by Ferrari at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix will pay off in race trim.
Ferrari has yet to win a race this season and in recent events has slipped further behind Formula 1 title rival Mercedes.
Vettel qualified third at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, eight-tenths of a second down on pole sitter Valtteri Bottas, as he lapped slower than he did during pre-season testing.
But the four-time World Champion, without a race win since last August’s Belgian Grand Prix, is optimistic that Ferrari’s approach to the weekend will pay dividends when it matters.
“I think third gives us a good chance and we look forward to the race,” he said.
“I think we brought some new bits, a new engine, everything seems to work but clearly we are not yet where we want to be but I think in terms of team effort, everybody was doing their utmost.
“We tried a lot of stuff, we went in different directions. I think we ended up getting the best out of the car for qualifying, which, as I say, wasn’t enough and we’re certainly not satisfied.
“But I’m very happy with the approach, with the chance that we took, in terms of trying something daring, something I think ultimately will pay off.
“Not yet – not [in qualifying] at least! But hopefully it helps us in terms of pace [in the race]. Hopefully sets off the right direction for the next couple of weeks.”
Ferrari’s biggest time loss through the course of the lap came in the final sector – comprised of low and medium-speed corners – and Vettel believes it is an area of weakness for the team.
“It seems to be more than an Achilles’ heel at the moment,” he said.
“They [the Mercedes drivers] were both very happy with the car, especially last sector. For us it was a bit more tricky.”