Vettel aiming for second best to Mercedes after 'interesting' Austria Friday

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Sebastian Vettel hopes Ferrari can be second best to Mercedes after what he called an "interesting" Friday at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Heading into the season opener, the Scuderia had made it clear that victory was out of the equation as they deal with aerodynamic issues on the SF1000.

But in what was a very tight pack behind Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas, Vettel was a solid fourth-fastest, a position the four-time world champion now hopes to sustain.

"I think we had a decent day. We didn’t have any trouble with the cars," he told the media.

"In terms of speed and competitiveness, it was an interesting day. I think we’ve seen Mercedes at the top, as I said we’re not the favourites.

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"Mercedes were very, very strong as expected. Then there’s a lot of stuff going on behind that, it’s very tight. We’ll see. Tomorrow will be a big day and we’ll try to be the leaders of whatever group behind [Mercedes]."

That "lot of stuff" is the emergence of the upper midfield as an apparently genuine threat to the lower places in the top-six, led by a much-improved Racing Point team.

"Yeah, we didn’t look that much into Renault, McLaren and Racing Point to be honest," Vettel admitted, on whether their presence was expected.

"It’s always difficult to predict what most people were running but I think we will see tomorrow. We still haven’t seen everything today.

"What we can say is that Mercedes seem to be the fastest, Red Bull was a bit unclear today. I think they didn’t show everything. I hope we can be very soon in that mix again."

That last line appears to suggest Vettel is expecting to at best be third-fastest for now, and he conceded there's little chance of that improving.

"Right now, no. It’s up to us to develop and work and get the car fast, that’s what we have to do," he said.

"We have to be more quick, add more downforce compared to others. Also a little bit on the straight, the car is draggier than the others, so it’s a mix of all these things.”