Phillip Horton  |    |   0  |  15 March 2019

Sebastian Vettel lacking confidence, but hopeful of closing gap

Sebastian Vettel conceded he lacked confidence with Ferrari’s SF90 during practice in Australia, as Mercedes opened a substantial advantage.

Vettel was the quickest driver through pre-season testing as Ferrari caught the eye but reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton led both sessions at Albert Park on Friday.

Having held a slender advantage in FP1, Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas pulled clear in FP2, with nearest opponent Red Bull eight-tenths in arrears.

Vettel, meanwhile, took fifth place, 0.873s behind Hamilton.

“Yeah, confidence… it was a tricky day for us and probably a tricky day for everyone,” said Vettel.

“I think for us we are not where we would like to be – not in terms of lap time but in terms of car feel and handling.

“We didn’t really get into the groove and rhythm and that’s quite important around here.

“So if we can get that confidence and that groove back, there is a lot of lap time in that around here.”

On Mercedes’ pace, Vettel added: "I think they looked really quick, and I don’t know if it was just us struggling a bit today or others, but as a matter of fact they were in a league of their own.

“Maybe everyone else was struggling and then we can turn it around, but they looked very strong and much stronger than they claimed before the weekend.

“But I’m optimistic because I know the car can do much better.”

Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc was a subdued ninth in the sister SF90, having escaped damage when he spun through the exit of Turn 4 late in FP2.

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