Sebastian Vettel is refusing to discount Mercedes from the fight for Formula 1 pole in Monaco this weekend despite the German marque’s quiet showing in Thursday’s practice sessions.
Vettel led Ferrari to the top of the timesheets in FP2 with the fastest-ever lap around the streets of Monaco, finishing almost half a second clear of the field.
Vettel’s F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton struggled through second practice, finishing over a second off the pace in eighth place for Mercedes as the team moved in the wrong direction on car setup.
Nevertheless, Vettel is refusing to discount Hamilton or teammate Valtteri Bottas from the fight for pole, believing Mercedes will find its feet again come Saturday’s qualifying session.
“I am not counting out Mercedes. They probably had a problem today, but I am sure they will be back to full force on Saturday,” Vettel said, as quoted by the official F1 website.
“It is Thursday so there is plenty of time for them to sort things out. My guess is that it will be very close – and that the five-tenths are not the reality.
“We have been able to put it together today and I am happy about that. It was a good start into the weekend. Now let’s let that sink in and see that we keep the tension until Sunday.”
Even with his own strong showing, Vettel is confident that more time can be found, particularly through the long runs that will prove critical in the race.
“The aim is to get faster. If it really works we will see,” Vettel said.
“What I can say right away that the single-lap pace is very promising, and how the long run will work is very difficult to predict, as you always run into traffic.
“My guess is that we still can get better in race trim. We will analyze every single corner and sector to see where we can find valuable time.”