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Sebastian Vettel is confident that he and Ferrari will provide Mercedes with a far greater challenge this season, compared to the 2015 campaign.
Mercedes won 16 of the 19 events last year, with Lewis Hamilton beating teammate Nico Rosberg to the Drivers’ Championship title, although Ferrari’s overall relative pace improved during the latter part of the season.
Despite the only running of 2016 having so far been two days of wet-weather tyre testing at France’s Paul Ricard Circuit, Vettel already believes that Ferrari have made further strides in their pursuit of the Silver Arrows team.
With the season-opening Australian Grand Prix taking place in Melbourne in mid-March, the former Red Bull man told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Winning in Australia would be fantastic, but our goal is to be at the top at the end of the season.
“We know that the gap (to) Mercedes last season was large before we closed it.
“Something has changed, and we will see how things are after testing, but we shouldn’t make proclamations at this time.
“The development of the new car continues, and we will certainly try to win in Melbourne, or earn as many points as possible.
“Given that there are 21 races, if someone asked me whether I would like to win right away or if I would rather win the title … well, there is no comparison.”
The full testing that Vettel refers to will take place at the Circuit de Catalunya from February 22 to 25 and from March 1 to 4.
By David Maher