Sebastian Vettel says he has seen rival Formula 1 teams copy design elements from Ferrari this year – and insists that reflects well on his team’s development work.
The Scuderia has produced its strongest car in the V6 era in the SF70H, which enabled it to seriously challenge Mercedes for the constructors’ championship and allowed Vettel to lead Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings.
The two teams’ individual form has ebbed and flowed throughout the season, and Ferrari has so far managed to remain well in the fight, coming out on top most recently at the tight-and-twisty Hungaroring before F1 paused for the summer break.
“It’s a fact to say in the last couple of years we didn’t have the best car and it’s a fact to say in the last couple of years we weren’t the strongest in terms of developing the car,” Vettel said.
“This year, if you look at the last three years, this year is a different story and we keep progressing. We have brought a lot of bits, we have seen a lot of bits of people copying ours but that’s a good sign.
“It’s testimony of good and hard work and the achievement that has gone into this project and we keep pushing flat-out.”
Vettel added that Ferrari now has “quite a good understanding” of which aspects of its car – widely recognised as one of the grid’s most consistent performers – need improving.
“We’ve been competitive every track where we have went,” says Vettel. “It’s true that Mercedes has here and there been more competitive and we were a little bit behind.
“It’s normal from track to track there is a bit of a difference. For drivers, some tracks we like more than others so it’s the same for the car.
“It’s normal it’s up and down but that’s not our target – we want to be the best on every track we go. That’s not the case yet but we’re working on it.
“We have quite a good understanding of what the car needs. Now we have the time to look into a couple of things with a bit more peace and calm and try to improve.”
Ferrari’s one-two in the Hungarian Grand Prix helped the team close to within 39 points of Mercedes with nine races to go.
Vettel extended his lead over Hamilton to 14 points and is confident he and his team have the resources and capabilities to fight until the end.
“The team is in much better shape this year and if you have the right results coming your way, you start to pick up some moment,” he said. “It’s up to us to keep it going. I’m quite confident we have the right people.
“We know how to build a strong car and we have improved the engine this year massively so everything is going in the right direction. I’m confident we’ll be there and fight for big points.”
Additional reporting by Roberto Chinchero