Sebastian Vettel struggling to replicate pre-season feeling

Sebastian Vettel says he and Ferrari are still struggling to replicate the strong feeling he enjoyed during pre-season testing, after qualifying third in China.

Vettel led the way through winter running in Barcelona but since then has topped just two practice sessions, and is the only one of the Mercedes/Ferrari drivers without a pole position.

Vettel – and Ferrari – were off the pace in Australia, while the German struggled compared to team-mate Charles Leclerc throughout the weekend in Bahrain.

Vettel edged Leclerc for third on the grid in Shanghai, three-tenths behind Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, but believes Ferrari is yet to extract the best from its fundamentally strong SF90.

“We have a strong platform to work from, we started off well from Barcelona, the feeling was strong,” he said.

“Since then, [we’ve] struggled to repeat that. The past two races, we had little issues here and there.

“Bahrain didn’t go my way. Saturday, had a small problem. Sunday, struggled in the first stint. Here and there, I’m not happy.

“You try and drive around the problems and try to set up the car properly.

“Maybe some things related to tracks, which Barcelona doesn’t show, but the car is strong so it’s up to us to extract the performance.”

On Ferrari’s performance during qualifying, Vettel said:

“I think we had a decent session, it’s important if we can’t beat them to be right behind them,” said Vettel.

“It buys us some options for tomorrow.

“The track ramped up, you can see the lap times from where we started to Q3.

“There is a bit in yourself, engine modes, but I think that’s normal. On our side, we were able to improve the car from where it was yesterday.”