Ferrari 'surprised' by early season reliability problems
But, Vettel doesn't believe they are pushing too hard to catch Mercedes; Ferrari have lost one car in both of the opening races
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/04/16 5:13pm
Sebastian Vettel admits Ferrari's early-season reliability problems have caught them by "surprise" - but does not believe they are a consequence of the team pushing to catch Mercedes.
The Scuderia have lost one car to unreliability in each of the season's opening two rounds. Kimi Raikkonen dropped out at the Australian GP after a turbo failure caused an airbox fire, while Vettel did not even take the start in Bahrain on Sunday after his car started trailing smoke on the formation lap.
Although Ferrari are yet to confirm the cause of Vettel's failure, team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said initial investigations pointed to a broken valve or injector.
After problems with their redesigned power unit during winter testing, speculation in Bahrain suggested Ferrari were still wary of pushing it to the limit.
Reliability has long been one of the Scuderia's strengths but, asked by Sky Sports News HQ if their recent frailties were a by-product of pushing hard, Vettel said: "Not really.
"We sorted out our problems over winter and starting the season it was a surprise what happened to Kimi. Today was a surprise again so we need to understand what happened and learn."
However, team-mate Raikkonen, who managed to split the Mercedes pair in Bahrain to finish second, accepted Ferrari's push to overhaul the world champions was not without risk.
"For sure they will [improve reliability], but it's sport where things can go wrong and things can happen," the former world champion said.
"Always pushing the limit sometimes things go wrong. It's not ideal, that's not what we're looking for, but we're pushing where we want to be, in the front."
Raikkonen finished just six seconds behind race winner Nico Rosberg, although the German admitted he was managing his pace at the front. Ferrari were again beaten by both Silver Arrows in qualifying, although had been challenging in Q3.
"We are nearly there in qualifying," Arrivabene told Sky F1. "There's a long way to go, so we need to work hard and be concentrated on our performance on the race."
Speaking to written media later, the Ferrari chief admitted he was frustrated to lose Vettel's car before the race had even started, although was full of praise for Raikkonen's "absolutely spectacular" recovery after a terrible start.
"One, I'm not happy at all because with this strategy and looking at the performance of Kimi I think we were able to do a very, very good race with Sebastian," the Italian said.
"Having said that, Kimi had a bit of problem at the start and I think that penalised him quite a lot because he overtook three guys ahead of him and maybe, and I underline maybe, he compromised victory of the race.
"The way that Kimi drove during the race was spectacular - absolutely specular. If you look at the overtake on the external part of the kerb with Ricciardo, he reminded me of the drivers in the old times when they were battling and they were brave. It was very, very good."