Sebastian Vettel feels Mercedes ability to turn up its engines for qualifying and put Ferrari on the backfoot at the start of races is proving key in the Formula 1 world championship fight.

Ferrari were powerless to stop Lewis Hamilton charging to pole position at Silverstone by over half a second compared to Kimi Raikkonen who qualified second. With Vettel forced to start from third he was caught out by Max Verstappen in the blast off the start line and spent his first stint stuck behind the Red Bull driver.

Vettel has revealed closing the gap in qualifying speed is a priority Ferrari is focusing on but concedes its current engine configuration is struggling to keep up with the Mercedes rate of development.

"I think the real game changer is qualifying, they are able to turn up the engine between three and six tenths to us on the straights, it was seven in Austria, so we need to be fair with that," Vettel said. "It is something we can't do, we are working on it but it doesn't happen overnight.

"I think we mustn't forget last year we were far away, this year we have been the majority of the year matched. It is probably true the last couple of races Mercedes have been stronger."

Despite his frustrations in qualifying, which were amplified by his radio rant at being released intp a pack of cars during his final run in Q3 at Silverstone, Vettel has laid on the credit to Ferrari for its 'biggest step of all the teams' and has faith in the Italian manufacturer making up its qualifying deficit against Mercedes.

"Red Bull were very vocal in the winter about how good they would be this season and so far they haven't been there so everybody is pushing very hard," he said. "We are working on the advantage they have in qualifying and it is a no brainer, if you have the cars in front for the first lap or corner, the race looks different. We know where to tackle but it is not that easy.

"There is no reason to panic or worry, they are very quick and they have a couple of advantages we need to work on and then it could be a different picture."

Ferrari has secured just two pole positions in 2017 compared to Mercedes on eight but the performance deficit has appeared to narrow during the races.


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