Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein believes the teams true position in the pecking order was masked by their tyre struggles and the German believes they will be competitive once they can resolve those issues.
Whilst Wehrlein qualified 22nd and last in Melbourne – the 21-year-old blamed a misunderstanding of the new qualifying system for his lowly position – his initial race pace matched the midfield until his tyres degraded, which he believes happened far quicker than those around him.
“The start was a great,” Wehrlein is quoted by FOX. “I was a bit surprised about my start, because it was my first in F1, but it was amazing. I improved six or seven positions in the first lap, and then we were really competitive in the first few laps when the tyres were good.
“But then we had quite big tyre degradation, and for me after six or seven laps it got worse compared to the other drivers. Then as soon as we put on some new tyres, the pace was back again, so we had a similar pace like in the beginning, so I could fight with other drivers. Then again after a few laps I had more tyre degradation.”
Wehrlein’s initial pace on fresh tyres gives him hope that once they resolve those issues they’ll be in a position to fight for a higher position and possible the odd point.
“That’s the first thing we need to work on, to make the tyres last a bit longer. But in general that makes me optimistic that the pace is there, we just need to do some changes on the setup and make the tyres last longer, and then we are competitive.”