Sebastian Vettel was left unsatisfied by his performance in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, saying that he had no excuses for placing his Ferrari one and a quarter seconds off Lewis Hamilton‘s pole time. He was also a tenth and a half away from team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, leaving him to settle for fourth position on the grid.
Vettel’s preparations for qualifying were far from smooth, his car undergoing a partial rebuild after a mysterious hydraulic issue reared its head in FP3 for the second time this year, similar to problems suffered in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Despite the less than ideal lead-in to qualifying, the German refused to blame the car for his lacklustre pace.
“The result is ok, but obviously I am not entirely happy and this qualifying didn’t help,” he commented afterwards. “I don’t have excuses, I could have done better. I think I had the rhythm at the end but just didn’t get everything right.”
Vettel suggested the red flag caused by Daniel Riccardo‘s accident was a factor in his eventual grid slot, which occurred just as he was about to start his final qualifying run.
“The start of my qualifying session was a bit slow, then by Q2 I think I had the car under control. But my Q3 was not ideal. I had to stop at the end of the pit-lane when the red flag came out and my tires got cold.
With no grid position advantage to rely on, he is counting on Ferrari’s strong race pace to drag him back into contention and mix with both his team-mate and the Mercedes on the front row.
“We were not quick enough, but tomorrow I think we still have a good chance,” he continued. “The car has been fast during the races and that was the case yesterday too, on the long-runs. So, let’s see what happens. Tomorrow, anyway, it could be a different story.”