Sebastian Vettel says it is a "no brainer" that Ferrari is not yet quick enough to match Mercedes in outright pace at the front of the Formula 1 field, estimating the gap to be around three- or four-tenths of a second.

Vettel managed to leapfrog Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen under the Virtual Safety Car in Australia en route to victory as the team made its best start to a season in eight years.

Vettel has been open about Ferrari's shortcomings in the fight against Mercedes, but expressed his confidence in the team to turn things around and make up the gap.

"I think if you look at the pace, testing, first race, it's pretty clear that Mercedes is fastest, probably with three or four-tenths gap," Vettel said.

"That's also what we saw in the race. Lewis was controlling his pace in the beginning and pushed when he had to. He had time in hand. I think that's the fair answer. Then I think it's very close behind them.

"Ultimately we need to have pace to win. As I said before, touching on some of the things, we look at ourselves and try to improve. I'm confident that we can. I think the car has potential, but we need to make progress and catch up quickly to be there to fight for wins just the way we did at many races last year."

Asked about the mood in the factory in Italy, Vettel said that while the gap to Mercedes remained a challenge to overcome, there was still plenty of optimism Ferrari can capitalise on chances as it did in Australia.

"I think we have enough clever people to know that we're not quick enough yet. There's a lot of analysis, obviously after every running that we do and people looking into all sorts of stuff to try and get more performance out of us, out of the team, out of the car," Vettel said.

"It's also a no-brainer that we're not quick enough yet and Mercedes is quicker. But we go racing. It's not that we live in simulation land and rely solely on numbers. We go racing as you saw a couple of weeks ago in Australia, as you saw many times over the past years.

"And that's I think the excitement of what we do, that you never really know what happens even if you have a guess. I'm sure you have your statistics and numbers, and you can say this many times it works out that way. Sometimes it doesn't. I think in general people are quite fired up.

"We had a great year last year. We missed to win the constructors' and drivers' championship. I think with this year's contender we improved. The car is better, but we need to get it in the right window. Plus we need to catch up looking at where others are.

"Overall I think we are aware, but we're very motivated to turn the page and do the final step. I said many times it is the hardest step to take, but we are very willing to take it."

 

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