Sebastian Vettel fears Red Bull has out-developed Ferrari this season and moved ahead in the Formula 1 pecking order aiming to chase down defending champions Mercedes.

After a painful Hungarian Grand Prix, where both Vettel and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc finished over one minute behind winner Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, Vettel is looking to his Italian team to uncover key upgrades to catch up in the development race.

Vettel has put Red Bull ahead of his Ferrari squad in terms of overall development and car performance with Mercedes still leading the F1 pecking order.

“It is possible to close the gap as Red Bull has shown as they have been behind Mercedes at the start of the season, and probably behind us, and I think currently they are ahead of us and closer to Mercedes than we are,” Vettel said.

“Let’s say Mercedes is in the best position with the strongest package so they are the ones to beat. That is what we are aiming for. It is not an easy task but that is what we are here for.”

As a result Vettel has given a frank assessment of Ferrari’s current upgrades but remains hopeful the Italian manufacturer can recover its form this season.

“They had the effect, they were working, but obviously not good enough,” he said about Ferrari’s updates. “That is harsh but that is the reality. We need to try to find more performance and squeeze more performance out of the car, better ideas and more solutions to make the car faster.

“That is where we are and obviously it hurts if you lose like that, losing by a minute in Hungary, and we were going flat out as much as I think the front runners were but as I said it is not impossible to close the gap.

“Sometimes things start to click and fall in line with smaller things that can make a big difference. I don’t think there will be a silver bullet that will give us one second per lap but I am convinced and I know that if we find small things here and there sometimes it sets off a chain reaction. That is what we have to work towards.”

With both Mercedes and Honda delivering power unit upgrades for the Belgian Grand Prix, Vettel has played down his concern over Ferrari’s lack of new engine at Spa-Francorchamps. All Mercedes-powered cars are expected to take the update this weekend, including customer teams, while only Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat will take on the Honda in Belgium.

Ferrari has been seen as the fastest car in terms of acceleration and straight-line speed this season but has suffered at low speed and cornering.

“We have a new engine planned for the future, but I don’t know when, but it depends if they [Mercedes] put in a lot of horsepower,” he said about the performance gap. “Then it is going to be tough for everyone but sometimes if you put in less horsepower but more reliability so I don’t know what is their priority at this point.

“Historically they’ve been very strong and we know that their engine is also very strong. We hope that they don’t have too much power because they are fast already.”

Red Bull has closed to 44 points behind Ferrari in the second place in the F1 world constructors’ championship with nine rounds to go in 2019. Mercedes holds a dominant 150-point advantage at the top of the standings over Ferrari.

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