MELBOURNE, Australia -- Despite winning the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari are not as quick as they were 12 months ago when they last made the trip to Melbourne.
For the second year in succession Vettel claimed a surprise victory Down Under after Lewis Hamilton failed to capitalise on pole position. This year the German, who started third, benefited from running the ultra-soft tyre long in the first stint as he was able to leapfrog Hamilton and teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the pits when a Virtual Safety Car was deployed on lap 24 to help marshals remove Romain Grosjean's stricken Haas.
While clearly pleased to have started the year off on a positive note and take the championship lead to Bahrain, Vettel says Ferrari seem to have gone backwards from where they were last season.
"Today we didn't have the true race pace to match [Mercedes]," said Vettel. "If we're fair, Lewis was fastest whereas last year I think we had a bit more pace at this point. Last year we were putting them under pressure.
"If you look at the gaps from the whole weekend we are not yet a true match so at this point we are not yet where we want to be.
"When I'm racing the car doesn't respond the way you would like. I want the car to be spot on when I hit the brakes and turn in. I'm still struggling a little bit and I'm not yet happy."
Vettel also believes Ferrrai were owed some luck after being on the receiving end of some misfortune at various points of 2017.
"Needless to say we got a bit lucky with the timing of the Safety Car but equally I think we had some races, in particular last year, where it went the other way," said Vettel. "I've been on the other side as well.
"Good points and for everyone back at home I think there are motivations to press on."