Sebastian Vettel has played down chances of a repeat of his shock Malaysian Grand Prix win, despite showing strong pace during Friday practice in China.
The Malaysian Grand Prix winner was fourth fastest in Shanghai on Friday and expects the team to make another step forward for qualifying.
However, he admits beating Mercedes will be a challenge, while reiterating Ferrari’s focus on establishing itself as ‘best of the rest’ behind the reigning champions.
“First of all it is only the third race of season; second, it is a different track compared to Malaysia, therefore the most important thing is to look after ourselves,” he added.
“The target n.1 is that we are right behind Mercedes, you have to accept that they are very strong, as the season gets on we try to get closer and closer.
“Fight for pole with Mercedes tomorrow? They were very strong today. For us the most important thing is to make a step forward, there are a few things that we can improve.
“Am I scared of Red Bull? No, it was probably the first more or less ok Friday for them. I think it is clear that it gets tougher as the season goes on, as everybody will find his own rhythm. Tyre management will be crucial.”
Kimi Raikkonen ended the day second fastest for Ferrari behind Mercedes pace setter Lewis Hamilton, showing decent long run pace despite a minor brake issue.
“Overall it has been a good day of work,” he explained. “In the afternoon we had a problem with the brakes but the mechanics did a very good job and managed to fix it, then I was able to go back on track and go on with the programme.
“It’s a bit early to make predictions, we still have things to improve, tomorrow we have to make sure that everything works and have another good day without any issues or problems and then we’ll do our best for qualifying and the race.”
This article first appeared on Richland F1 – Image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari