Vettel: Mercedes "much stronger than they claimed" - Fri 15 Mar 11:06 GMT

Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel says the rival Mercedes team has looked “much stronger than they claimed before the weekend” in Friday practice ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Vettel: Mercedes "much stronger than they claimed"

  Vettel's Ferrari team stood as the pre-season favourite after Barcelona testing, and Mercedes publicly acknowledged that the Italian outfit looked to have the edge.

  Speaking after Friday running, Vettel jokingly referred to pre-season claims of Mercedes' struggles as “bullshit”, before adding that he was genuinely surprised by the German team's performance.

  Vettel and new teammate Charles Leclerc were both within a tenth of Hamilton in FP1, but slumped to fifth and ninth respectively in the second session.

  Asked why Ferrari lacked pace compared to Mercedes in FP2, Vettel said: “We don't know the reasons but we're looking for them.

  The German said Ferrari “didn't get into the groove” on Friday, and believes there's a lot of laptime to be picked up once he regains confidence in the car.