Sebastian Vettel said he was surprised to find himself fastest in FP2 in Monaco without a Mercedes in sight.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ended up second-fastest ahead of Vettel’s Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen. That left Vettel surprised by the absence of any Mercedes representation at the top of FP2’s results.

“I don’t know what happened to Mercedes today,” he said. “I’m pretty sure there is a reason and they will be back to full force on Saturday, so it will be close. Also with Red Bull.

“It’s always tricky to judge because you don’t get so many clear laps with a lot of traffic. But it seemed okay.

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“It’s only Thursday, so we have to wait for Saturday to get a clear picture,” he conceded. “But it is nice to have a good feeling with the car already.”

Vettel finished almost half a second clear of the rest of the field on Thursday afternoon. It was something that he really hadn’t expected after a somewhat erratic morning session.

“I was pretty happy in the afternoon,” Vettel said. “In the morning I was maybe a bit wild, touching the walls a couple of times. The afternoon seemed a bit better.

  • Vettel takes charge in Monaco for FP2

“Around here it’s important to have a good feel for the car, to get the lap together. You cannot always go with the one time you set at the end of the day.

“But for sure, we managed to put it together and we’re quite happy,” he said.

Vettel had initially been on the back foot in FP2. Overrunning engineering works by the Ferrari mechanics meant he had to sit out the first 20 minutes of the afternoon practice.

“We got out a bit late, which wasn’t scheduled,” he admitted. “We had a small issue at the start of the session which needed some extra time to be looked at. But then we were on our way.”

“We still have some work to do on the car,” he said. “Now is only Thursday, so we still have a bit of time.

“We can still do – and have to do – something to the car to be more competitive overall and in the race,” he suggested. “It’s about fine-tuning, and we have time for that.

“I think Kimi and myself, we were both quite happy with the long run,” he added.

Vettel’s optimism for the upcoming race was shared by his team mate.

“It was getting better and better and that’s the main thing. We made smooth progress,” said Raikkonen. “In the long runs the feeling with the car was good, while on the shorter ones we still have to improve a little bit.

“We only need to work on small things to get a nicer feeling all the time and see once we push where we end up on Saturday. For sure it will be close between quite a few cars and so we obviously we need to do a good job”.

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Gallery: All the pictures from Thursday in Monaco

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