Ferrari came into the 2019 on a high, boosted by a strong showing in pre-season testing in Spain. That was before the first race of the season in Australia, which proved to be something of a reality check for Sebastian Vettel.
Three races later and a crushing run of race performances from Mercedes has left Vettel acknowledging that any hopes Ferrari might have an edge over their rivals have now been well and truly dashed.
“We are not the favourites going to Barcelona,” he told the media immediately after the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday. “Obviously the last four races on average we were not quite there.
“There’s still plenty of work for us to do, obviously we were not quite where we want to be. At this point I think we just need to maximise what we can.
“The team is in good spirits. We have another couple of upgrades to get on the car,” he said. “[But] we need to chase them down.
“We are looking forward hopefully to a smooth weekend [for the Spanish Grand Prix],” he added. “Our first four weekends haven’t been that smooth, but it will be crucial to catch them and turn the things around.”
As for Sunday’s race, Vettel agreed that his initial run on soft tyres had left him struggling.
“The first stint was really poor, I struggled to initially get the tyres to work,” he conceded. “I really struggled to find a rhythm.