Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes is “more at ease” with its 2020 Formula 1 car compared to Ferrari, as the marque prepares for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Mercedes has won the last six world titles in Formula 1 and led the way during both pre-season tests at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last month.
Ferrari has already played down its prospects, reckoning it is behind its opponents, with team boss Mattia Binotto acknowledging it will not be in contention for victory in Australia.
“It just looks like Mercedes is more at ease,” said Vettel. “Not just for one lap which is what people look at but also in general the runs.
“There was some stuff [with the Ferrari SF1000] that was very good and other stuff that wasn’t good so it also has an impact on lap times.
“If you look [at testing] Mercedes are at the top because they are every time they go out fairly quick and with ease. While others need to stretch a bit more so we will see.”
Ferrari, which faced an off-season investigation over its power unit, has sacrificed power for reliability, while also chasing greater levels of downforce, having struggled in 2019.
Vettel is optimistic that Ferrari will be able to emerge as a contender with modified car philosophy.
“We’ve worked very hard in the winter and our car is a step forward, currently it comes with more drag and we are aware and pushing as hard as we can to try to get rid of the drag and make it more efficient,” said Vettel.
“But we also believe come race day it will give us an advantage the way it is set up now so we will see.
“It will be key to develop the car especially since it seems we are not the very fastest right now so we have some work to do but if that’s what it is, then that’s what it is.”