Sebastian Vettel believes that there are a number of things Ferrari has to work on before the 2019 season rolls around where it will once again try to dethrone Mercedes and halt its run of title success.
The Scuderia outfit was beaten in qualifying by the Silver Arrows in Abu Dhabi, with the latter securing a front-row lockout and leaving Ferrari to settle for third and fourth on the grid.
Ferrari mounted a stronger title challenge in 2018 compared to its efforts in 2017, but still saw its chances slip away as the second half of the season wore on. Heading into the winter break, Vettel believes there are a number of lessons the Italian squad can learn to come back stronger next year.
“If we do our job really, really well and we work together then we have a chance of finishing higher up,” the four-time world champion said. "It is needless to say that Hamilton is on an incredible run over the past five years and since the day he joined Formula 1 until now to be honest.
“I think it is the fifth consecutive pole and front row lockout for Mercedes so it also proves they are doing a really, really good job as a team. It is something for us, and it is not that easy, but it is a challenge to beat such a strong team but that is our target.
“We know we have a lot of work ahead of us and we have lessons to be learned from this year but ultimately I think we have 21 races, the 21st coming tomorrow, and at some of them we haven’t been strong enough this year to take the challenge to the last race and last lap.”
Speaking about his qualifying session, Vettel believes that Mercedes was simply faster at the Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday: “In Q1 it was really tight so I thought we would have more of a say but in Q2 I think Lewis put a really strong lap in on the harder tyres,” Vettel said. “I thought ‘ah, it’s going to be difficult’.
“Then the first run in Q3 I had a really good lap which was very close again but they must have still had some cushion for the last lap. I did improve and I think the track ramped up but not enough to be a threat,” he addded.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing