Sebastian Vettel: Ferrari will bounce back from subdued start

Sebastian Vettel has asserted that Ferrari will bounce back from its subdued start to the 2019 Formula 1 campaign, stressing its SF90 has untapped potential.

Ferrari led the way through pre-season testing and was expected to contend for a third straight Australian Grand Prix victory, but was off the pace throughout the weekend.

Vettel qualified seven-tenths behind Lewis Hamilton and was overhauled in race trim by the Honda-powered Red Bull of Max Verstappen, while Mercedes went on to register a 1-2 finish.

Vettel led a 4-5 for Ferrari and the team conceded in the immediate aftermath of the race that it was at a loss to explain its performance deficit.

“I think we have all the tools, all the ingredients that we need,” asserted Vettel.

“We have a good car, we know it. This weekend we didn’t, overall we’re not competitive enough, but we will be back. 

“Last year we left winter testing with problems on the car. It wasn’t behaving the way we wanted it, the way it should.

“This year was the opposite, the car was behaving the way we expected and it felt very good.

“That’s why we came here last year and the balance wasn’t right, because we had to cover up. We had a very poor rear end last year and felt we had to trim the car towards understeer a lot. That didn’t feel great.

“We managed for this weekend last year, and the race pace was fine, but we weren’t there in qualifying. We got lucky in the race, but I think by Bahrain we had fixed all our issues from winter testing last year in the first race, and that’s why I think we all of a sudden unlocked a lot more pace for last year.

“This year, the problem that we have has nothing to do with what we have seen last year.

“Still all the car and all the numbers and so on make sense also this weekend, but clearly we’re missing something.

“Right now, we don’t have an answer, but we need to get back, have a good look, and I’m sure we’ll find something because we know that the car is better than what we’ve seen, not just [in the race] but the whole weekend.”

Team-mate Charles Leclerc also expressed confidence that Ferrari will be more competitive in the coming events.

“In the end, I think as seen, it’s not like we arrived with a very different car to testing, it’s not like Mercedes is either has come with very different cars, so I think the car is there,” said Leclerc.

“In the past, it has been seen quite a lot of times that [Melbourne] is quite a strange track and it’s not always very representative of the real performance of all the cars here in Australia.

“So I’m confident that we can come back. How much? We don’t know, this we’ll only know in two weeks but yeah I’m confident.”