Following six years of limited success with Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel will feature for a new team this season.
The new Aston Martin recruit believes that those in the midfield, like his team, have more than what it takes to challenge Mercedes.
Midfield teams have undoubtedly become stronger this year and the gap between them and Mercedes has certainly grown thinner.
Vettel is optimistic that Aston Martin will give Mercedes something to think about in the upcoming season.
“It will be difficult to filter all the impressions because the tyres are different, the cars have changed, and I’m sure that lots of the experiences I’ve made, other people have made as well, so it’s all relative,” Vettel said.
“In terms of performance, as far as what I’ve seen, it looks to be very close. That would be good if it’s like that, so yeah, Red Bull looks very strong, Mercedes – anything other than being at the top would be a surprise for everyone.
“But it looks like all the midfield has caught up. But it depends on how the car feels; if the car feels fine, but it’s relative.
“The car can feel fantastic, but if it’s too slow, it’s painful, and if it feels horrible but it’s faster than everyone else’s, then you accept it. We’ll find out more when we go racing.”
Aston Martin clocked the least number of laps during pre-season testing in Bahrain. This was largely due to technical problems that the team faced over the course of the event.
“Well, now there will be a race, and I’m looking forward to going racing; testing is not that exciting, but if everything is new, then we would have liked to have more days.
“Also, with the little hiccups that we had, but it is what it is, so as I said, it won’t be like testing; it will still be racing, but we will have to learn a lot.”