Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari is struggling to get on top of their tyres coming into this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
Vettel was fastest in morning practice in Sochi on the fastest hypersoft tyres. However that was in part thanks to his Mercedes rivals sticking to the slower soft compounds.
When the teams were on an equal footing after lunch, Mercedes jumped ahead with Lewis Hamilton going fastest with a best lap of 1:33.385s.
That left Vettel over half a second slower than his main title rival. Meanwhile his team mate Kimi Raikkonen was over a second off Hamilton’s pace, leaving both Ferrari drivers looking worried.
- FP2: Mercedes takes charge in Sochi for second practice
“Obviously we looked quite far away from the rest of the field, so not ideal,” Vettel admitted when tackled by reporters after the end of FP2.
“We are not where we want to be yet and we’ve got some catching-up to do,” he sighed. “That is Friday for you. Sometimes we have better Fridays than others.
“Just looking at ourselves it wasn’t a good day,” he admitted. “We were struggling a bit for one lap, but also on the long run.
“I think we struggled with the tyres, with and without traffic. Certainly the traffic doesn’t help but I think we have some catching up to do.
“We went through the tyres too fast, especially the front left,” he continued. “And struggled a bit with both the fast laps and with fuel on board.
“Now we have some work to do, as we need to find the reasons for that and come back stronger,” he said. “I think in terms of the car there is more that we need to get to.”
Having slipped 40 points behind Hamilton in the drivers championship following the Briton’s victories in Monza and Singapore, Vettel appeared somewhat downbeat on Friday. However he was far from giving up hope of bouncing back this weekend.
“I am positive as ever, as I think that tomorrow and on Sunday it will be better and we’ll find out the right things to apply.
“We want to put both cars on the front row tomorrow,” he added. “We don’t know yet what will happen, but we’ll try to do our best as pole is the best place to start from.”
Raikkonen was taking a similarly phlegmatic view of how the day had gone.
“Normally, we don’t look too much into the lap times on Friday,” he said. “We try many things and learn from it.
“Today the conditions we found were pretty much those we had expected,” he continued. “Usually on Friday it is always tricky with the tyres.
“Then the situation improves, the circuit cleans up and there’s more grip to be found,” he explained. “For sure there’s some work to be done and there are things to improve, but this is normal.
“We’ll see what tomorrow brings in qualifying, when everybody is pushing to the maximum.”
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