The Australian Formula One Grand Prix finished roughly as expected – with Mercedes filling the first two places and a Ferrari third.
But Sebastian Vettel says Sunday’s race highlighted just how much the Prancing Horse has bridged the gap on its arch-rivals.
From third position on the grid, Vettel speared through an opening between the two Mercedes on the front row, followed by teammate Kimi Raikkonen, to lead the race into turn one.
Through a mixture of differing strategy and mechanical failure, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were able to guide Mercedes to a one-two finish but the Ferraris showed enough pace to suggest the Silver Arrows have a fight on their hands this season.
“Plenty of positives … we were a lot closer,” Vettel, who finished third, said.
“It was a obviously a pleasant surprise or pleasant event seeing that the start was great and I was overtaking both.
“We expect more this year … we come with more expectations, naturally when you finish second in the constructors you want to challenge for first.
“I think we managed to close the gap more than anyone else so there’s plenty of positives.
“There has been a lot of work going into this car and I think this is the right car and should allow us to put a lot of pressure on these guys.”
Raikkonen was forced to retire when his engine caught fire but that wasn’t close to the most spectacular incident of the day.
McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso was lucky to walk away from a scary crash with Haas F1 Team’s Esteban Gutierrez that brought the race to a halt.
“You could argue the red flag didn’t help us,” Vettel said.
“But equally once it plays into your favour and the other time maybe it catches you out a bit.
“Today, nevertheless, we had a great race. We went for the aggressive route, maybe with hindsight we could have done something else but I’m not willing to blame anything or anyone.”