Sebastian Vettel believes that there is more to come from Ferrari at the Chinese Grand Prix as he looks to challenge the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for the race win once again this weekend.
Vettel claimed a shock victory in just his second race for Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago, perfecting a two-stop strategy to expose a chink in the Mercedes armor and spring a surprise on the Silver Arrows.
Hamilton appeared to resume normal service during practice in Shanghai on Friday for the German marque, though, topping both sessions as Vettel finished third in FP1 and fourth in FP2.
The German driver believes that there is plenty more to come from Ferrari this weekend, although he did acknowledge that Mercedes is looking very strong once again in China.
“I think we can do a step forward tomorrow and then we can see what we can do,” Vettel said. “First of all it is only the third race of season; second, it is a different track compared to Malaysia, therefore the most important thing is to look after ourselves.
“The number one target is that we are right behind Mercedes. You have to accept that they are very strong, as the season gets on we try to get closer and closer.
“Fight for pole with Mercedes tomorrow? They were very strong today. For us the most important thing is to make a step forward, there are a few things that we can improve.”
Looking behind him, Vettel said that he did not feel threatened by Red Bull despite Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat enjoyed an improved display during the practice sessions on Friday.
“Am I scared of Red Bull? No, it was probably the first more or less ok Friday for them,” Vettel commented.
“I think it is clear that it gets tougher as the season goes on, as everybody will find his own rhythm. Tire management will be crucial.”
The long-run pace that Ferrari showed during FP2 suggests that the team may be well-placed to challenge Mercedes once again this weekend, setting the stage for a thrilling battle in Shanghai.
You can watch qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3a ET on Saturday.