Red Bull celebrated yet another pole position for Sebastian Vettel in China today, but celebration will be slightly dampened after Mark Webber failed to get out of Q1, and will start tomorrow’s race from eighteenth on the grid.
Although, to someone watching, Vettel’s third pole in three races seemed incredibly straightforward to secure, the German insists that it was still ‘tough’. “We have done it again, but every single time is tough,” said the reigning world champion. “I think today wasn't as straightforward as we planned – especially in Q2; I made a bit of a mistake in the run I did then.
In Q3 I was confident that we were able to improve quite a lot. Obviously today we did a good job, but it's just eight metres on the track tomorrow. It will be a long race, but I think we can be happy with the car. We did some good long runs on Friday and so we have a reason to feel good, but it's also a threat to feel too good – so I pay attention that doesn't happen.”
Webber, in contrast, was not particularly happy with how his day went. “It's a very frustrating day,” he said. “We didn't have a smooth P3 or Q1 and we paid the ultimate price at end of the day. We thought we had enough to get through on the prime tyres – we have the pace, but I couldn't get the tyre working on my second run.
“We'll see what we can do tonight, but I can only go forwards. I can’t remember the last time I was out in Q1; it was a long, long time ago, so it was a bad day for us.”
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, suggested that this pole position was a reasonably comfortable achievement, and explained the thinking behind Webber’s choice of tyres for his final Q1 run. “A third consecutive pole for Sebastian and, as he wasn't required to complete his second run in Q3, he was able to conserve his tyres for tomorrow,” commented Horner.
“After a Herculean effort from all the team to get Mark's car repaired and out for Q1, it was disappointing for both Mark and the team that he missed the cut. We elected to run the hard tyre for his second run thinking it would be enough, but unfortunately they weren't up to the temperature to do it. Obviously with 20 / 20 hindsight, you would run the option tyre, but we felt it would be enough at that time. It's one of those things, and it's the first time we haven't had both cars in Q3 for over a year.”