Sebastian Vettel insists that he’s not thinking about a championship challenge – and is focussing instead on short term efforts to make Ferrari more competitive and push Mercedes harder.
Nevertheless Vettel has been gathering points with huge success thus far in 2015, and thus remains very much in the title hunt.
“My mind is now in April,” he said after Sunday’s race. “It’s a long, long way to go if you talk about the season. I think for now, up to this point, we can be very, very happy. I think overall it’s still a very big surprise to everyone how good we are, how strong we are. That’s very positive. We had another very strong weekend in total here. Obviously the target is to catch Mercedes from where we are, because we seem to be the team right behind them.
“But when I say right behind them there’s still a bit of a gap. Anything else would be more of a surprise, I mean they had a very, very strong season last year, they had a strong build-up at the beginning of the year, so I think it is amazing to see how good we are already. For sure it will take a while before we are a decent match, but every weekend that is coming we’ll try to put more and more pressure on if we can.
“To be honest there’s plenty of stuff that we need to do and need to improve so that’s where my focus is, and that’s our best chance, whatever you might call it, looking at performing well this season, looking at having the strongest chance of the championship, whatever. At this stage as I said it’s April, it’s the time where you keep your feet on the ground. We’re not the favourites, we know that, but I think up to this stage we surprised a lot of people. We know that we can do well and we know that we can do better.”
Vettel denied suggestions that Mercedes might have something in reserve: “I don’t think they are trying to do something stupid. In the end I am sure Lewis and Nico are pushing as hard as they can. The first stop was very close when we all came out of the pits, even between Nico and Lewis, so I don’t think they were sandbagging at that point.
“I think in the second stint they were probably managing a little bit more the tyres just because you can when you are in the lead, you have free air, you are free to do what you like, because you know that for a couple of laps you won’t get undercut, because that wouldn’t make sense. But that’s normal, I think. Last year we didn’t see them sandbagging, but they had way less reason than this year.”