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Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel sure Mercedes still favorites in 2017

By Owen Fishwick | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-07 09:30
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel sure Mercedes still favorites in 2017

Ferrari Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany walks at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix in Shanghai,China on April 6, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

Despite claiming the first victory of the Formula One season in Australia just two weeks ago, Sebastian Vettel claims that Mercedes are still the firm favorites coming into round two at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The four-time world champion gave Scuderia Ferrari its first victory since the Singapore Grand Prix in 2015.

But speaking at Thursday's press conference, the German claimed that Ferrari still have their work cut out for them.

"I think Mercedes still has to be the favourite," Vettel said."We had a very, very strong first race. At least the way we look at it inside the team is to look at it race-by-race.

"We know there's a lot of things that we need to do to keep up with them and keep the position that we are in now, to fight for good races."

Below murky skies on Thursday and with rain predicted for the race, Vettel also said that the Melbourne result might not be a good crystal ball for Shanghai event.

"The weather is completely different, just looking outside now. It's always a grand prix full of surprises, the Chinese Grand Prix, since the day I can remember.

The Shanghai International Circuit in Jiading district has always provided good racing since it first entered the F1 calendar in 2004.

"In 2007 I think I had my first race here. I started 17th or 18th in the Toro Rosso and I finished fourth," Vettel said.

Last year's race alone saw more than 100 overtakes, more than any other race in 2016.

Though overtaking under the new regulations has been called into question by many in the paddock, Sunday's race will provide a better weather vane for future events because of the track's long corners and even longer straights.

This is something that worries Mclaren team principal Eric Boullier who said that the team's weaknesses will be "exposed" in China.

The Working-based outfit have a had terrible start to 2017, suffering reliability problems in testing and showing little pace in round one with StoffelVandoorne finishing in last place.

Ultimately, Mclaren's Honda engine is down on power, something that will become clear down Shanghai International Circuit's long back straight.

"The characteristics of the Shanghai International Circuit are very different from Melbourne, and its long, fast straights will likely expose the weaknesses in our package more than Albert Park did," Boullier said.

"Shanghai is known to be an unpredictable weekend for a number of reasons: it's tough on cars, tyres and power units and the weather is often precarious, but I can predict that we won't be as fortuitous with our pace, compared to our rivals, as we were in Australia."

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