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F1 Malaysian GP: Not fair to say Ferrari is massively behind – Vettel

Sebastian Vettel hits out at the suggestion Ferrari has slipped far behind Mercedes, insisting the team is on a par with Red Bull.
RESULTS: Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying results

Having spent Friday practice a few tenths clear of their closest rivals, Ferrari fell short capitalising on Red Bull as it fell behind both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying.

While only half a tenth separated Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for fifth position, the pair were two-tenths of a second down to Red Bull during qualifying as they look to regain second position in the constructors' championship.

“Obviously we would have loved to have been ahead of the Red Bulls with both cars,” Vettel said. “In the end we were behind with both cars so I'm not entirely happy, not that much gap in-between.

“But then again if you look at all of qualifying I think it's fair that they were just a little bit faster than us throughout the sessions, so I think we can be reasonably happy but for sure tomorrow our target is to fight back and challenge the podium.”

Ferrari is currently 15 points behind Red Bull in the constructors' championship, and with both cars stuck behind Verstappen and Ricciardo, a chance to recover some ground in the championship at a circuit the team were poised to excel at becomes a greater challenge.

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Having started the year as perceived thorn in Mercedes' side, Ferrari has failed to challenge for wins consistently and its momentum has stalled in the wake of Red Bull's revival in performance. However, Vettel dismisses the notion that it is falling 'massively behind', insisting Ferrari is level with Red Bull.

“At the beginning of the year we were clearly the second best team,” the German continued. “Now towards the end of the year, here and there in terms of pace sometimes we slip behind, it's correct, so I think it's very close. It's not fair to say we are massively behind.

“Fair enough, we are level with Red Bull and it will be our main challenge in the next couple of races and our main target as well, as we said, is to get second in the constructors back.

“I think we came into the season with high expectations, and the expectations came from ourselves, we had to learn that we are not achieving what we want, what we set out to achieve but equally I think everyone is fired up to give one hundred per cent.

“Arguably we had a lot of races this year that didn't go according to plan for many reasons but as a team I think we never lost focus.”


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