Vettel says battle with Raikkonen 'not one-sided'

Ferrari team mates Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) and Sebastian Vettel (D

Sebastian Vettel has been flying the flag for his Ferrari Team mate Kimi Raikkonen this week.

With Vettel leading Raikkonen by 18 points in the drivers championship after taking two wins in the first four races, it's become accepted wisdom that the German is once again significantly out-performing the Finn.

But Vettel says it's actually much closer between them than people generally acknowledge.

"It's been incredibly close this year so far," Vettel told last week. "To be honest, most of the Fridays I think he had the upper hand so far.

"Here and there I was struggling to understand the car and feel the car," he added. "Knowing him, knowing his strength, he's incredibly talented and able to drive around problems."

Vettel explained that people needed to look deeper than just who has the most points to get a proper picture of how each driver was doing.

"I think one thing is always to look at the result and the other is if you look a little bit deeper," he asserted.

"If you look at the previous years the image is a bit distorting. It wasn't as one-sided as you might think if you look at the results.

"The people that we work with know what's happening and what's not. I don't really care if people think you are slow. I know what we are doing."

Raikkonen actually out-performed his team mate at Baku, scoring a podium after Vettel briefly ran off track at the final restart.

The pair certainly seem well-matched as team mates. It was widely assumed that Ferrari would let Raikkonen go at the end of 2017, but paddock gossip hinted that Vettel made it a condition of extending his Maranello contract that Ferrari should also retain Raikkonen.

"We're a good pair, a good match. There's no problem at all between us, ever," Vettel insisted. "I think that's a really big bonus for the team and for us to just enjoy our job."

Even so, Vettel might need to brace himself for change. Daniel Ricciardo has been linked with a move to Ferrari next year, which could reignite their rivalry from a season together at Red Bull in 2014.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter