Although Sebastian Vettel chased Belgian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton all afternoon at Spa-Francorchamps, he could not attack for victory and as a result the German is pointing to improving his Ferrari’s qualifying pace as the solution.
Vettel told reporters after a tense and action packed race, “We know we need to improve in qualifying. They [Mercedes] are able to turn up the engine compared to everyone else by at least three or four tenths which does make a difference.”
“If we’d had a better day [on Saturday] with pole, it’s a different story. Or if at some point you end up in front, then it’s a different story, because then I think it would have been difficult for them to get past.”
Vettel finished second to Hamilton and saw his championship points lead cut from 14 points to seven, but he remains positive, “I think overall the satisfaction is really there. We had the pace, we were pushing them the whole race. I think we had no time in the race where we were slower, I think we had phases though where we were a bit faster.”
“And we were, I think, better with the tyres – I was following close the whole first stint, so plenty of positives and that’s where we need to continue. We are more or less the same on pace, so usually if you are the same on pace you fight for the same bit of track and that’s what we did, we were very close but struggled to overtake.”
“I think overall we have built a better car – that’s my conviction – but that’s for everyone to judge. There are circuits where we might have an advantage, circuits where they might have an advantage, but if we can change that trend in qualifying where life for them is maybe a bit too easy, then it’s a different Sunday.”
“Everyone knows it, we know it – but if it’s that easy to change you would do it. But it’s not. The level is very high – we are fighting the best team in Formula 1. They have won the championships the last couple of years fighting more or less on their own, so I think we’ve done a very good job to be where we are.”
“But that’s not enough – we want to clearly be at the front and there is a long way to go still. But everybody is fired up and I am pretty confident that we will have some good races coming,” added Vettel.
Big Question: Can Ferrari close the gap to Mercedes in qualifying?