While he’s still unsure of the pecking order going into the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel is sure Formula 1's midfield teams have reduced the deficit to Mercedes and Red Bull.

Stable regulations often lead to a convergence of performance with the 2021 cars being mostly a carry over from 2020, besides changes to the floor area.

Vettel still believes Mercedes and Red Bull will be the teams to beat in 2021, but expects a strong challenge from the host of midfield teams behind them.

“It will be difficult to filter all the impressions because the tyres are different, the cars have changed, and I’m sure that lots of the experiences I’ve made other people have made as well so it’s all relative,” Vettel said after the final day of testing in Bahrain.

“In terms of performance, as far as what I’ve seen, it looks to be very close. That would be good if it’s like that, so yeah, Red Bull looks very strong, Mercedes – anything than being at the top would be a surprise for everyone – but it looks like all the midfield has caught up. But it depends how the car feels; if the car feels fine, but it’s relative. 

“The car can feel fantastic but if it’s too slow, it’s painful, and if it feels horrible but it’s faster than everyone else’s then you accept it. We’ll find out more when we go racing.”

Across the three days of testing, only Mercedes completed fewer laps than Aston Martin.

Given Vettel’s lack of experience in the car ahead of the first race following his switch from Ferrari, the German concedes it will take a few races for him to truly adapt to his new surroundings.

“Well no there will be a race and I’m looking forward to going racing; testing is not that exciting but if everything is new then we would have liked to have more days, also with the little hiccups that we had, but it is what it is so as I said, it won't be like testing, it will still be racing but we will have to learn a lot,” Vettel added.

“And everyone will, I think it’s not just us and it’s not just the lack of laps here but everyone in the first couple of races will learn about their cars, the tyres and more. Naturally you are at a different stage when you approach the middle and the end of the season than the beginning.”



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