Sebastian Vettel says he has full faith in Ferrari’s performance at Paul Ricard but concedes he struggled to extract the optimum pace ahead of the French Grand Prix.

The Formula 1 world championship leader ended Friday practice down in fifth place on the timesheet over one second off of pace-setter Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes in a familiar story in 2018 which has seen the German driver unable to find instant speed with the SF71H.

But Vettel is certain his Ferrari possesses the pace to fight at the front in France with him needing to find the grove at an unfamiliar circuit which returns to the F1 race calendar this year.

“It is so-so. I think the car is quick but I wasn’t able to be quick with the car today, simple as that, sometimes you have these days,” Vettel said. “I think it is a tricky track and not easy to get everything right from start to finish.

“Some corners are very difficult to get just right and find the sweet spot. I think on the long run I was able to play a little more and try different things with lines to understand a little bit more so hopefully I can start from there tomorrow and we should have more of a rhythm.

“Car-wise I think we can improve as well as it is not yet where it should be.”

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Vettel will be aiming to defend his one point F1 world championship lead following his victory in Canada which saw him reclaim top spot in the drivers’ standings from Hamilton.

Ferrari were boosted by an engine upgrade in Canada while Mercedes delayed its update until this weekend in France.

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