Sebastian Vettel hopes Ferrari’s “daring” set-up direction will bring the team back into contention against chief Formula 1 rival Mercedes during the Spanish Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion ended up eight-tenths adrift of polesitter Valtteri Bottas in qualifying as Mercedes convincingly locked-out the front-row of the Barcelona grid, with Vettel left to settle with a distant third.

But the German believes Ferrari’s approach to its race-day set-up could hand the Italian squad an advantage.

“We tried a lot of stuff - different directions - and we ended up getting the best out of the car [in qualifying], which wasn’t enough.

“We are certainly not satisfied but I am very happy with the approach and with the chance that we took in terms of trying something daring and I think ultimately it will pay off.

“Maybe not yet, not [in qualifying] at least, but hopefully it helps us in terms of pace and hopefully sets us off in the right direction for the next couple of weeks.”

Vettel admits he was surprised by the extent of Mercedes’ advantage in qualifying and says Ferrari has work to do to get on top on its apparent weakness in slow speed corners.

“Coming here we did not expect [the gap to Mercedes] but we seemed to lose a big amount of time in the final sector,” Vettel explained.

“It’s quite clear that we appear to be faster down the straights so we are probably carrying a little bit less wing than them. But then obviously in the last sector there are no straights, so struggling to bring it together.

“It is not a long sector but there are some corners at mostly lower speed and that is where we appear to be losing speed. There is definitely some homework, we know this track very well, everybody does, but with the conditions we were just not able to match them.

“I think overall the car is good, we have performance, but we need to put it together and dig deep,” he added.

“Now is not the first time we are losing out, not the second or the third time, so it is a consistent trend that we seem to lose in some places independent of conditions, sunshine, clouds, tyres and compounds and so on.

“There is a bit more for us to understand, but if we had the solution surely it would be on the car already.”

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