Sebastian Vettel has described his current deficit to team-mate Charles Leclerc as “awkward” and “confusing”, but has downplayed suggestions of Ferrari tension and believes both drivers are getting equal treatment.
Vettel had a nightmare back-to-back at Silverstone – where he was thrashed by Leclerc in qualifying and collected only one point from two races – and arrives for the Spanish GP with a new SF1000 chassis after a fault was detected on his last one.
But neither Ferrari, or Vettel, believe the new SF1000 monocoque will offer the four-time world champion a performance relief, with the four-time world champion admitting on Thursday: “I don’t expect miracles.”
Vettel then spoke to Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes about the poor British and 70th Anniversary GPs from his side, particularly compared to Leclerc, who finished a superb third and fourth in the races.
“Obviously we had two difficult weekends,” said Vettel, who is 13th in the standings and 35 points behind Leclerc. “Come race day, usually it’s better because I know that my strength also lies in the race.
“Obviously I didn’t get through all the races – the first one we were stuck in traffic, the second one we were mostly in traffic. Also because I obviously had the spin very early on, which didn’t help.
“But as a fact, in qualifying I wasn’t able to match what Charles was doing, despite having many attempts and new sets of tyres. So that’s a bit awkward. But nothing I can do there, I have to hang in there and do my best.”
Asked if the Ferrari car suits Leclerc’s driving style more than his, Vettel replied: “No, I don’t think so. It sounds nice for you guys to talk about it but in the end we are used to driving whatever we get and try to do the best out of it.
“Normally we are all good at it, some maybe a bit more than others but I think historically this has been a strength rather than a weakness. That’s why it’s a bit confusing.
“But then again, sometimes you don’t get all the answers you like. In a sport where you usually get a lot of answers and you measure so much stuff, there’s certain things that you still can’t measure. So we’ll see how it goes this weekend.”
But Vettel also insisted he was “not frustrated, even though I have known better times”.
“It hasn’t been my best opening of the season, but to say right away that it is frustrating? That’s going too far for me,” he stated.
“I like what I do so that helps. Even though the last two weekends have been difficult for me, we have the next race straight away and I have experienced so many examples how quickly the tide can turn.
“So I’m fairly relaxed. I’m sure it’s going to be better.”
Vettel dismisses talk of Ferrari tension, and early exit
Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season, was in a punchy mood during Thursday’s media day ahead of the Spanish GP, but refused to criticise his team – or speak ill about their current relationship – throughout.
When faced with a question in the press conference about why his damning radio messages on strategy from the 70th Anniversary showed there was growing tension between him and the Scuderia, Vettel hit back:
“I don’t agree with the statement. I think we are trying to do everything we can.
“It’s never relaxed if things don’t go your way or it goes wrong. Obviously if you judge the emotions right after the race then during the race, I don’t think it’s a fair reflection of what’s actually going on.”
Vettel also insisted he was planning to stay with the team until the end of the season.
“I don’t think [I’ll leave early],” he said. “We haven’t even considered or spoken about it. I know the job that I can do. It’s not been the cleanest run but I’m sure if things calm down and I get a decent chance, then I will use it.”
And finally, Vettel was asked about whether he still trusts Ferrari…
“I’m not trying to get into any of this, I’m just trying to do my job. At the moment it’s not plain sailing or calm it’s a rather rough sea, but I have to do the best I can which is staying focused, being fairly open minded and trying to tackle it.”
… and if he and Leclerc are getting equal treatment and equipment.
“At the moment I would think so, if not I would say otherwise.”