Sebastian Vettel says he needs to “behave” in the final sector of the Yas Marina circuit to close the gap to Friday practice pace-setter Lewis Hamilton as he targets a winning end to the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Fresh from his Brazil Grand Prix victory Vettel started the opening practice session on top before losing out to Hamilton in the second session by almost two-tenths of a second.

Over a single hot lap Vettel lost the bulk of his time to Hamilton in the final sector, the tight and twisty section where Ferrari was predicted to be faster than Mercedes going on form this year, which confused the German driver and he hopes to put right before qualifying.

“I don’t know why [slower in final sector], I saw that as well,” Vettel said. “I think they are very quick. I was very happy with the lap to be honest – maybe the last sector there was a bit more.

“Overall it was okay and we started off on the right foot. If I can behave in the final sector I should be better off.

“It was a good day, the balance was good and the car was good straight away. I think it will be very close. I haven’t seen the long runs in terms of times, but it felt okay.

“If we can do the usual step to Saturday and improve the car a little bit – I don’t think we need to do much – then it should be a good day and then we will see in qualifying.”

Vettel says Ferrari has switched its major development focus to 2018 after losing the F1 world title fight in Mexico two races ago, evident with the Italian manufacturer running complex aerodynamic rake and devices in FP1, but is determined to provide his team with a timely momentum boost for the winter with back-to-back wins after his Brazil triumph.

“We try stuff all the time to improve the car – not specifically for next year – but everything we tried the last two weeks is for next year,” he said. “The mindset is that we are already in next year.

“It’s important to finish on a high – the better the result and better the mood – we will try our best but in our heads I think we are already thinking about next year’s car.”