Following his final run-out before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel is confident Ferrari has eradicated its reliability gremlins heading into the 2018 Formula 1 season. 

Ferrari enjoyed its most competitive season in recent years in 2017 with Vettel putting in the first significant title challenge to Mercedes’ dominance of the V6 hybrid era. The German led the 2017 standings until round 13 at Monza, before his title bid collapsed after a disastrous run of reliability issues during the Asian leg of the campaign. 

The Italian squad is yet to show any signs of problems during winter testing, with both Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen managing to rack up impressive totals in the mileage charts across the two weeks. After completing a further 188 laps on Thursday in Barcelona, Vettel said he has no concerns over reliability heading to Melbourne

“I think in terms of reliability, it's rock solid,” Vettel told reporters at the end of the Thursday. “Hats off to all the guys in the factory. There's so much planning involved and trying to squeeze out everything. Fingers crossed it stays like that. It's the major ingredient if you want to do well.”

Vettel’s last action of winter testing was to put Ferrari on top by over a second on the penultimate day of pre-season testing with a 1m17.182s, set on Pirelli’s fastest hypersoft compound. Despite posting the fastest-ever lap around the Spanish Grand Prix venue, Vettel downplayed the significance of his record time. 

“It’s just a time. There’s been a lot of times, what’s important is the car was working all day. We did nearly 200 laps so that was good. Overall the conditions were better than yesterday. It’s always difficult to compare but it matters in a couple of week’s time, that’s when its serious.”

The Scuderia is aiming to stop Mercedes from matching its own F1 record of five consecutive world championship victories - achieved between 2000 and 2004 with Michael Schumacher - this year.  

When asked for his gut feeling about Ferrari’s chances in 2018, Vettel replied: “Obviously our target is to be up front but this is the wrong time to say anything. You’ve seen more cars going round than I have this week. 

“I had more time to look at the timesheets as well so I’m sure in the next couple of days we will know a little bit more heading to Australia. For now the important thing is we know our car is working the way we want, the way we expect. 

“Also its always difficult to know, these days so many variables. It used to be only fuel and tyres, now it’s energy, and modes, whatever. So it’s the wrong time to draw any conclusions.”

 

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