Motorsport Week  |    |   0  |  13 March 2018

Sebastian Vettel moves to play down rivals' long-run F1 test pace

Sebastian Vettel has raised doubts over the long-run pace that rivals Mercedes and Red Bull were able to display during Formula 1 pre-season testing.

Formula 1 teams gathered at Spanish Grand Prix venue Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for eight days of running, with race simulations prioritised towards the end of the gathering.

Mercedes captured the attention with a strong race simulation, leading to suggestions it is ahead of the pack, including Ferrari – its main 2017 rival, with Red Bull having made gains.

However, Mercedes conducted its race simulation on Pirelli’s Medium tyres, with regulations stipulating that two dry-weather compounds must be used in a Grand Prix.

It is that element of Mercedes – and Red Bull’s – testing programme which Vettel sought to analyse.

“Our competitors – Mercedes and Red Bull – used one type of tyre for their race distance simulations, which is something you can’t do in a Grand Prix,” he said.

“This has an impact on the strategies and ultimately on the result.

“I think we’re starting from a good base with our SF71-H car.

“Now we’ll have to work on development to further explore and improve its potential. I have a lot of confidence in our team, I know how skilled and committed the guys in Maranello are.”

Vettel opened last year’s championship atop the podium in Australia after beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in a straight fight, and is hopeful of competing at the front again next weekend.

“I can’t wait to be in Australia, because once we get on track there, we will all be driving and racing under the same conditions,” he said.

“And, as I said before, I have confidence in our car.”

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