Vettel sees 'pattern' emerging at Ferrari as SF90 knowledge improves

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Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari is slowly coming to grips with its SF90 and collecting the knowledge it needs to "unlock" the full potential of its 2019 contender.

The SF90's performance in pre-season testing suggested that Ferrari would enjoy a clear edge over its Mercedes rival when the season kicked off in Melbourne.

But three races into its campaign, the Scuderia has yet to beat a Silver Arrows squad which has so far racked up a trio of consecutive one-two triumphs.

Ferrari's new recruit Charles Leclerc came close to achieving success in Bahrain, dominating the field at Sakhir until an engine issue robbed him of his maiden F1 win in the closing stages of the event.

Before China, it was believed that the strong straight-line speed of the SF90 would provide Ferrari with an edge in Shanghai, but neither Vettel nor Leclerc came close to challenging their Mercedes counter-parts, a relative weakness that confirmed the current superiority of the German outfit's W10 package, characterized by a better overall balance in terms of downforce.

Vettel believes the weeks ahead will prove crucial for Ferrari as the Italian outfit decides the direction in which it wants to develop its car.

"We have a very strong car, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I think we’re not able to yet put it in the window, especially for myself, here and there," said Vettel.

"I’m not entirely happy yet compared to where we started off.

"Obviously the three tracks we’ve been to now are quite different. The conditions we had are different.

"But I think we start to see a sort of pattern and, especially throughout a grand prix distance, understand what we need, what I need, to really unlock this car.

"These couple of weeks and the next weeks will be very important for us to understand where we need to go in the next months."

Interestingly, Vettel's comments allude to his own difficulties in getting the most out of his mount.

The SF90's issues notwithstanding, Leclerc appears less impacted by the car's characteristics, something perhaps rooted in the two drivers' contrasting styles.

"Seb and I, from Barcelona, we have two very different driving styles," said the Monegasque.

"So we require some changes on the car and some slightly different balance. I won’t go too much in detail with this but we don’t require exactly the same car obviously."

Vettel and Leclerc likely share some common ground when it comes to the SF90's shortcomings. But will the car's near-term development bring it closer to Vettel or move it further away from Leclerc?

Or will the future development path benefit both drivers?

This week's Azerbaijan Grand Prix may offer a few answers to those questions as the Scuderia gets more clarity on where it needs to go next.

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