Sebastian Vettel remains “fairly optimistic” heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix despite Ferrari’s ongoing struggles with Formula 1’s “sensitive” 2019 tyres that have contributed to its poor start to the season.

F1 tyre supplier Pirelli tweaked its compounds for the 2019 season, reducing the tread by 0.4mm as well as bringing its range closer together in terms of performance and durability.

Despite impressing in pre-season testing, Ferrari has failed to win any of the opening five races of the season, with its tyre struggles being identified as its main area of weakness compared to Mercedes, which has recorded a one-two finish at each round.

Vettel said Ferrari used the two-day test in Barcelona last week to work on where it had gone wrong in the Spanish Grand Prix, but felt it was difficult to make any firm assertions for Monaco given the unique nature of the street circuit.

“I think the main conclusion happened across the weekend when we found ourselves as not competitive enough,” Vettel said.

“Obviously we tried to explore with a bit more time certain setups and so on, and I think we made a little progress, but overall the gap was quite big at the last race.

“For here, it is difficult to predict because it is such a different place and unique place. You would assume that this type of corner would really suit us given the last couple of races.

“But I don’t see why we shouldn’t have a good race. I think historically the last races [in Monaco] have been quite good for us, so I am fairly optimistic and am looking forward to getting back on track.”

Vettel explained that while Ferrari had struggled to get its tyres into the right working window, it did not fully explain why it was so far behind Mercedes for pace.

“The tyres are different this year and it looks like we are struggling a bit more than others. To be completely honest, the tyres are very sensitive and extremely difficult to understand,” Vettel said.

“I think it is a combination of things. Our car is not quick enough, and that is something we have learned more than once and this might trigger that you don’t find yourself in the right place of the tyres. The window, unfortunately, is so small and extremely small to hit, and you can sometimes see big differences in time across the same driver or inside the same team, which sometimes you struggle to understand.

“But it’s the feedback we get inside the car from the tyres, and sometimes it feels better and sometimes it feels worse. Obviously there is lot of engineering power and science to try to overcome all these random scenarios, but there maybe people understand a little bit more than we do currently.

“But as I said, with the tyres, as with the car, we try to understand more and more, which will hopefully help us ideally tomorrow, but also in the next weeks for sure going forward.”

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