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On-track woes masked Ferrari's 'massive step' in F1 2016 - Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Formula 1 pre-season testing Barcelona

Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari's on-track struggles in 2016 hid the dramatic progress the Formula 1 team made with its infrastruture, as it ended this year's pre-season testing on top.

Having scored three victories with Vettel a year earlier, Ferrari registered a second winless season in three years in 2016 and slumped to third in the constructors' championship, behind Mercedes and Red Bull.

But in pre-season testing for the 2017 season, German Vettel and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen were the two fastest drivers in single lap terms over the two weeks of Barcelona running in Ferrari's SF70H.

And although the team has been eager to play talk of its potential to challenge Mercedes having failed to deliver on its expectations last year, Vettel said Ferrari was stronger operationally as a result of organisational changes during the 2016 season.

"We are better prepared than last year, we did more laps," he said in Barcelona.

"Overall the team is in a better shape.

"We learned a lot from last year, and I think last year was the most important year for us.

"Even if you look at the results you say it was not such a successful one, what happened in the background was really, really important to make a step forward, and hopefully we've done that.

"Last year we learned a lot of lessons, the whole organisation, the whole team I think has grown. I think it was the most important year.

"Obviously '15 was a great year to start for myself, for the team to restart the mission to win.

"'16 was a step back in terms of results, but I think a massive step forward in terms of organisation."

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