For the second time in three races, four-time World Formula 1 Drivers Champion Sebastian Vettel failed to make it into the final part of qualifying. The German Red Bull driver will start from eleventh having initially qualified twelfth, gaining a place due to the penalty that his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo carried over from the previous race in Malaysia. Ricciardo had qualified third, but will start from thirteenth.
“We weren’t quick enough today,” admitted a disgruntled Vettel. “I was pretty happy yesterday, but I think this morning didn’t help us when I spun off and did some damage to the car. It’s hard to say how big the impact of that was, as once you start qualifying you just get your head down and try to do the best you can. It was quite tight with Kimi and there wasn’t a lot missing to get to Q3, but that’s how it goes.
“We get an extra set of tyres tomorrow and I think in the race things will calm down and we’ll be able to be a bit more consistent and attack for some good points. I think our speed is okay on a longer run – and actually on a shorter run too, as Dan has shown today. It will be hard to overtake some cars tomorrow, but we will try our best.”
Team-mate Ricciardo was one of the stars of qualifying, placing as best of the rest to the dominant Mercedes, finishing third before his grid drop penalty, given to him because of the unsafe pit stop release in Sepang last weekend.
“Today was nice, tomorrow will be less nice with the ten place penalty, but I was really happy with qualifying,” said Ricciardo. “I think through all the runs and on both tyres I was happy with my performance. We may have saved one set of tyres compared to the others, so that’s good, hopefully I’m going to need it tomorrow for coming through the pack; hopefully it will help us.
“I did the best I could today, so for that I’m pleased. I think Seb and I will both be charging hard tomorrow and will aim to put on a good race.”
Red Bull Racing Team Boss Christian Horner was delighted about how Ricciardo went about qualifying, and said Vettel was hampered by some technical issues with his car, but hopes for a good result in the race.
“A superb lap from Daniel to finish qualifying in third,” said Horner. “It’s unfortunate he has to take the ten place penalty, but nonetheless a really impressive qualifying performance from him today.
“Unfortunately Sebastian’s qualifying was plagued by a couple of issues that cost him straight line speed and some compromised downshifts. Hopefully that can be rectified overnight. Sebastian will start tenth tomorrow and, with freedom of choice of tyres, it still puts us in a reasonable position for the race.”