Sebastian Vettel explains how Ferrari must improve against Mercedes
Vettel admits six-time champions Mercedes "close to perfection" but is adamant Ferrari do have the tools and skills to take them on over a season
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 15/10/19 9:14am
Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari have to improve a "lot of small things" if they are going to beat a record-breaking Mercedes team over a season - claiming the world champions are operating at a level which is "very close to perfection".
After a typically strong Japanese GP, Mercedes have wrapped up another Constructors' Championship and they also now know they will be the first team in Formula 1's history to seal six consecutive double titles - with one of Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas guaranteed to claim the drivers' crown.
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Historically it has been Ferrari who have set the bar in the sport but, while the Scuderia have been Mercedes' closest challengers in the past three seasons, they have failed to consistently match the Silver Arrows.
Sunday's race in Suzuka provided another example of that as, despite locking up the front row, Ferrari had a far slower race car than Mercedes, while Vettel made a critical error at the start and Charles Leclerc collided with Max Verstappen.
"It's very difficult," admitted Vettel, the four-time world champion, when asked about competing against Mercedes.
"Obviously you can't see what they are doing but I think from the outside they are very close to perfection every time they go out on track so very consistent, very little mistakes.
"That's certainly also part of what makes them so strong but yeah, if you clinch the constructors' title with four races to go there's a lot of things you do better than all the others."
Vettel added: "If you go into detail then you can argue what their car is maybe doing better than ours but I don't think that's the point overall, it's a team effort.
"I think we do have the ingredients, we do have the commitment, we do have the intelligence, but we just need to do it better. It's a lot of small things; it's not one thing that we need to improve, it's a lot of small things that we need to do better, every single one of us and that's the only way that we can try and step up.
"Hopefully they get a bit bored!"
Ferrari 'need to work better' to get ahead
Mercedes' 2019 triumph was one of their most impressive.
Ferrari were considered early-season favourites and have considerably more straight-line speed, but Mercedes won the campaign's opening eight races and are still operating at an extremely high level on Sundays, although Ferrari do now have five qualifying poles in a row.
Vettel finished second in Japan on Sunday, ahead of Hamilton but some distance behind race winner Bottas.
"Well, obviously not happy with the fact that we didn't have the year that we were looking for but it's not today that made the difference, not yesterday, and not last week," said Vettel as he reflected after the race.
"Obviously it's been a long year and it's still going so… I don't think we're lacking anything. I think we just need to work better. I think we are very committed, working very hard but it's not yet on the level that can be achieved. Obviously Mercedes have shown that in the last years that you can do better and they've been able to maintain that.
"I think we've learned a lot about our car, the weaknesses, we've improved it but we're still not there so… We've had a strong couple of races but overall I think we're still a little bit behind."