Vettel admits Mercedes will be 'tough to beat'
10 November 2017 – Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has admitted that Mercedes will be "tough to beat" at the Brazilian Grand Prix, given the pace it displayed during practice.
Mercedes topped both of Friday's practice sessions at Interlagos, with World Champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas comfortably recording 1-2 results.
Hamilton's benchmark of 1:09.202, set in FP1, was some half a second quicker than Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo managed in FP2, and a further tenth clear of Vettel.
While he expects a "very close" fight with Red Bull this weekend, Vettel feels it is unlikely that Ferrari will be able to challenge Mercedes for pole position or victory.
"Mercedes looked very strong, so I think they are a bit ahead, both of them [Hamilton and Bottas]," commented Vettel, reflecting on the first day of running.
"I think it's very close between us and Red Bull.
"I think we can fine tune the balance and that should help us, but it will be tough to beat Mercedes as they look very, very quick in all conditions, and on all tyres."
On his return to the cockpit after missing out on the title, he said: "It was nice to get a lot of laps today, it's more quiet on track than off track, so I enjoy that."
Ricciardo echoed Vettel's sentiments on the pecking order.
"Mercedes are pretty quick on high fuel, we seemed to be quick on low fuel, but I think they'll have a bit more on low fuel tomorrow," he commented.
"But relative to Ferrari I think we had a pretty good day."
Vettel's team-mate, Kimi Räikkönen, finished third fastest in FP1, but dropped to sixth in FP2, adrift of the frontrunners, after suffering from tyre-related vibrations.