Sebastian Vettel says third was the best Ferrari could do in the Spanish Grand Prix, as they didn't really have the pace to keep up with Mercedes.

Vettel managed to pass Lewis Hamilton at the start and he also managed to stay ahead in the first round of stops - after the Briton had a problem with the left rear. However, once Mercedes switched the 2008 and 2014 F1 World Champion to a three-stopper, it all unravelled for the Scuderia and Vettel eventually finished 27.8s adrift.

"Obviously we were hanging in there pretty well. I had a good start and was able to get passed Lewis and then we did the right thing covering him at the first stop, but then unfortunately they switched to three stops and they were just too quick," Vettel admitted.

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"We couldn't really keep up with the pace they had today, but third is the best we could do. I am very happy, the car is great and it is great to see the fans - all the Ferrari flags here, so, very happy."

Meanwhile, Vettel also defended the decision to stick with a two-stopper and not mirror what Hamilton did.

"To be honest I thought it would be tricky to keep him behind because they are much quicker as we saw at the end of the race," he explained.

"Obviously we were a bit lucky because at the first pit stop Lewis had a problem and so we were able to stay ahead. I think we reacted well and did everything we could. Then they decided to pit [Lewis] very early and go for a three stop and I think it was our best chance to stay out, which is what we did.

"But unfortunately I then came out in traffic after the second stop and we lost maybe a couple of seconds, which maybe would have been just enough to stay in front. But arguably with the speed they had, you have to be fair and accept that they deserved to finish in front of us. Well done to the both of them."

Despite the gap at the end though, Vettel is convinced Ferrari has made progress and that the fight will be tighter in the coming races.

"I am pretty confident we will get closer again pretty soon and hopefully in a few weeks time it is a different picture. I think we have done a step forward as a team. In terms of performance it doesn't really show here, but I am quite confident in the next few races, we should be there. I am looking forward to that," concluded the four-time F1 World Champion.