Sebastian Vettel has voiced his displeasure at seeing Ferrari further behind Mercedes in terms of pace and performance compared to last year despite the Italian manufacturer introducing a power unit update for Monza.
Ferrari had high expectations of closing the deficit to Mercedes having spent its final development tokens of 2016 on its power unit update for Monza but after a tentative debut during Friday free practice it became clear its main rival still holds a sizeable advantage.
During last year’s qualifying at Monza, Ferrari split the Mercedes with Kimi Raikkonen taking second on the grid behind pole sitter Lewis Hamilton with Vettel in third in front of Nico Rosberg – while the time deficit stood at less than three-tenths of a second.
This weekend Mercedes locked out the front row with Hamilton’s pole lap time over seven-tenths up on Vettel who took third on the grid.
“We’re not happy that we are further behind than last year,” Vettel said. “I think there’s a lot of stuff leading into the actual lap time that you are able to do, like Lewis said, he was completely happy with his car. I think we were happy all weekend but in qualifying, here and there, it could have been a bit better.”
Vettel is optimistic Mercedes can’t maintain its level of superiority over the field in a race as it tones its engines down to preserve its reliability but is still concerned by the task ahead aiming to catch the German manufacturer.
“I think if you look at the comparisons, it’s not a big surprise in qualifying, Mercedes seems able to turn it up probably a little bit more. So for the race that does come down because they can’t run – I hope they can’t run – those engine modes for the whole race. Obviously we’re just not quick enough yet.
“It’s nothing to make super-complicated, we know that the combination of car and engine, we’re a little bit behind on both sides, so it’s up to us to catch up. As you can imagine, it’s not that easy.”
Assuming a normal race Vettel is confident of targeting the podium, something he views as a special achievement for Ferrari at Monza in front of the Tifosi, but has played down his chances of vying for a first win of 2016.