Sebastian Vettel says he has no intention of foregoing his 2016 F1 world championship ambitions just because Red Bull appears to have overtaken Ferrari as the main threat to Mercedes.
Although he admits that, in terms of 'pure' result, his former team has had the better of things in the past couple of races, including a win for RBR newcomer Max Verstappen in Barcelona, Vettel refused to concede that Red Bull had pulled ahead of Ferrari as a contender.
“Performance-wise, I don't need to cover everything again because that is what we spoke about in Barcelona and Monaco, but I think we're still quick enough to be the first contender to Mercedes,” the four-time world champion insisted, “We've got some new bits here so I hope we can close the gap. We'll focus on Mercedes. I think that for everybody who is behind – the second, third, fourth, fifth team, whatever – the benchmark is always the quickest team and, currently, that is Mercedes and that is what we are aiming for.”
Red Bull's recent resurgence, which saw Daniel Ricciardo all but dominate Monaco before having to settle for second place, now sees Vettel trail his former team-mate by two places and six points, separated by Ferrari colleague Kimi Raikkonen, who failed to finish in Monaco. Despite that, and the fact that he is 46 points adrift of championship leader Nico Rosberg after six races, Vettel is not giving up on the ultimate prize.
“Why else would I want to be here?” he asked, “Why, if you give up and say there is no hope, or reason to believe in the fact that we can turn the championship around. I was believing in winning the championship last year and, if you look at how competitive we were, that was a good thing to do on paper.
“But we're not racing on paper! If it's all done on paper, we'd all stay at home and we'd know in February who will be world champion – and that would be quite boring. Everything in life would be quite boring if we had the 'on paper' approach, so we do the opposite: we go racing - where anything can happen.
“Two weeks ago, in Monaco, I think it was a good race, very exciting, but it could have been different for us, for other people, whatever… That is what we are going to find out in the race. So, I believe we can turn it around. I believe in the team. I know that, currently, we are not currently in the position that we want to be, in a position here that we can approach the race and be 1-2 for sure, but you never know. We will try our utmost, fighting very hard, and giving it everything to win this race - and the next race... I wasn't the best in maths, but I don't have to be a genius to do the calculations to say that we can still win [the title].”