Despite claiming the first two victories of 2018 Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes, not Ferrari, is the team to beat at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
Vettel has driven two stellar races to start the new season but his victories have both come at races Mercedes appeared to squander. In Australia it misjudged Lewis Hamilton's advantage during a Virtual Safety Car period, while a timid strategy, mixed with a sublime defensive drive from Vettel, saw the world champions fall short in Bahrain.
The cooler conditions are expected to favour Mercedes and Vettel believes the smart money is on the world champions being back in front.
"I've seen the forecast, but you never know," he said. "It's obviously cooler. It's a different track, so I think, honestly, the first two races have been quite different, so it's not that straightforward to predict the third one. I think overall if you take into account all the testing we did et cetera, then Mercedes is still the favourite going in.
"Certainly we'll try to have a different outcome than that. I think if we do our homework, if we get the car balance right and we get everything together, then it should be a good weekend -- I don't see why not."
Vettel does not think it is fair to suggest Ferrari has been smarter with its strategy than its main rivals on the basis of two races.
"Well, I think something that happened in Australia can happen. It happened to us last year the other way around. I don't think it has anything to do with being smart. I think we know our numbers, and I think -- not to go in detail too much and get lost.
"I think some of the systems we have can be a bit tricky. I think every team is aware of that. Then I think for Bahrain obviously we had a different plan going into the race, but we wanted to win, so we had to change it, and it worked out. I think in the position that we were we, in a way, had nothing to lose -- falling back to third was the worst possible result -- so we took the risk and it paid off, so I don't think, again, there was anything Mercedes could've done massively different. In the end we did everything we could, we did everything right, and that was important."