Sebastian Vettel has admitted Mercedes were simply the better all-around team in 2017 after Ferrari were unable to sustain a season-long challenge for the championship following their impressive improvement.
The Scuderia even surprised the Motorsport boss at the German manufacturer Toto Wolff with their resurgence thanks to new rules this year, as Vettel won two of the opening three races at the expense of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
But with the best engine and a chassis strong enough to challenge at most circuits, despite becoming known as a "diva" due to its occasional tendency to throw up problems, beating Mercedes regularly was simply too tough an ask.
"Overall I think we had a good year," the German said of Ferrari's year. "You have to be also fair, in the end, Mercedes was better, they were faster – look at the number of pole positions, race wins.
"I think we had our chances, we used them, we had races were we probably got away with a good result even though it was on the edge. I’m thinking about races like Bahrain where we were very close to have a failure.
"We won the race in Hungary which I don’t think we were supposed to win with the steering failure we had during the race. We finished races that might as well have been, could have been a DNF.
"On the other hand, we had other races where we didn’t finish. It’s obviously bitter because you’re not in the fight. That’s the frustrating bit about those races but they’re part of racing. So, that’s how it goes sometimes."
A run of three consecutive races ultimately ended Vettel's title challenge, with retirements in Singapore and Japan plus engine problems in qualifying in Malaysia, which also cost the four-time champion a likely victory.
Instead, it was Hamilton with two wins and a second at those same three races which saw a 56-point swing in the Briton's favour and would allow him to join the 30-year-old as a quadruple time champion with two races to spare.
"In that regard obviously Mercedes has been more consistent," Vettel said, with Lewis also becoming the third driver to win the title by scoring points in every race. "The issues that they had, thinking about gearbox at the beginning of the year were less costly and happened to them on a Saturday or early in the weekend – but that’s how it goes.
"Overall I think it’s a straight fight and they just did better but again I want to emphasise the positives for us, really the steps we were able to make and the way the team has grown together," he ended.
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