Despite lining up third on grid for the Monaco Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel
is confident that the pace-setting Mercedes will struggle to hold their advantage in the race.
The German manufacturer has secured pole position for four straight races, but has failed to convert any of the previous three top spots into anything better than a third place on raceday, as it continues to struggle with rear tyre wear. Despite Monaco not being as hard on the rubber as some other circuits – most teams are eyeing a two-stop strategy at most – Vettel is certain that he can make his last better than his rivals.
“I'm quite happy that there isn't a Ferrari
or a Lotus ahead,” he smiled after qualifying, “I think [Mercedes] will have to stop at least as much as us, so I think sitting in third [on the grid] is still a good result and should be a good opportunity tomorrow to win the race.
“I think we will have to wait until tomorrow really to be precise, but our long run pace looked good on Thursday. I think we're pretty much average in terms of tyre wear [and], at the last couple of races, Mercedes was worst in that regard, so I think we still have a great chance from P3. I'm hoping for a good start and then getting into the race nicely, doing the right calls at the right time and, hopefully, coming out ahead. That's the plan. Our target is to win, but surely those guys have something against that.”
The world champion admitted that, with passing on track likely to be tough without mistakes from those in front, tyre strategy would likely be the key to success.
“There's a lot of laps here, [but] I think, on track, [passing] will be difficult, we all know that,” he confirmed, “I was fourth for many laps at the end of the race last year, [but] I had the feeling I could go faster. I think Nico [Rosberg] was in second, and he had the feeling he could go faster, but it's difficult to overtake. In 2009, I didn't mind that it was difficult because I was in the lead, so it always depends where you are.
“On track, it will be difficult but, if all goes well, hopefully the Mercedes will struggle and we'll sail past in the pit-stop. But we can't rely on that. Tyre wear will, for sure, play a role tomorrow, but I think we need to look after ourselves first and then we'll see what happens. Hopefully, we make the right calls at the right time [as] I think that will definitely be the [best] chance we have.”