Sebastian Vettel is adamant that while the SF71H is an improvement on its predecessor, Ferrari never once had the dominant car in this year’s championship.
Last week the four-time World Champion bid farewell to his dream of a fifth World title, at least for this season, once again losing the championship to Lewis Hamilton.
It brought to an end a title race in which Ferrari seemed to have the upper hand only to throw it away.
But while some believe Ferrari and Vettel botched it despite having the dominant car in the pack, he feels otherwise.
“That is where I maybe have a different opinion to the rest,” Vettel said in an interview with Autosport.
“It is absolutely true to say we have a very strong car, but people’s perception that we had a dominant car, I don’t think it was true.
“I think if you look at the results I don’t see where is the dominance.
“In Spa we didn’t have the pole, whatever the conditions. We got [the win] because of the way Spa is designed, with Eau Rouge being flat [-out].
“Last year we had a lack of horsepower and that’s why the overtaking didn’t work.
“This year we didn’t have [that disadvantage], so I was able to keep the benefit from the tow and I was able to pass [pole-sitter Hamilton].
“But then, as a matter of fact, Lewis was always one, two, three seconds behind. He had the same pace. We were driving to the same tenth, and at some point he gave up.
“That is why we won with an eight-second gap. For me it’s not a dominant race. It was a very close fight.”
Not for the first time the German cited a general lack of pace from Ferrari’s F1 car as part of the reason why he’s not a five-time World Champion.
“Mostly we were not fast enough,” he explained. “At the end of the day you need to have the speed to fight for the championship.
“Last year it was apparent that we were very good until midway of the season, and then maybe [because] some tracks didn’t suit us, some DNFs that we had, we lost momentum.
“But we lost momentum also because we were not fast enough.
“This year, unfortunately in some ways has been similar, that just some races we didn’t have the pace compared to Mercedes.
“We were not able to get enough points, so within two-three-four races – I don’t need to explain to you – there was quite a big gap.
“That has been a shame.”