Sebastian Vettel raises doubts about rivals' testing pace
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes and Red Bull's strong long-run pace in winter Formula 1 testing could prove to be deceptive.
Analysis of the testing times suggested Mercedes had a clear edge on race pace at Barcelona, with Ferrari potentially falling behind Red Bull having been the champion team's main rival in 2017.
But Vettel says the fact Mercedes and Red Bull did race simulations entirely on the medium tyre means their performances might not be representative.
Ferrari dominated the top end of the timing charts at Barcelona with times set on shorter runs with Pirelli's softer compounds, while there were hints that Mercedes was struggling with tyre temperature on the softer types.
"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," said Vettel.
"This has an impact on the strategies and ultimately on the result."
He insisted Ferrari had had a strong pre-season and would head to the Australian Grand Prix in as a good a shape as its main rivals.
"We're starting from a good base with our SF71H car," Vettel added.
"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.
"We, too, did a good job in terms of mileage, totalling some 4323km of running.
"I have a personal best of 188 laps in one day, which is 875km and a total of nearly 3000km.
"We did not experience any major issues with the car, and I had fun driving it.
"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.
"And, as I said before, I have confidence in our car."