Sebastian Vettel has pinned his race hopes on a contrary strategy after qualifying sixth for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix. The World Champion admitted to feeling uncomfortable on the medium tyres so opted to qualify on the hards, meaning he will have to start the race on that set.
With Kimi Raikkonen dropping five places due to a gearbox change, Vettel will start fifth and is confident that the RB7 will be stronger in the race than it has been so far this weekend.
“We didn't feel so good on the medium compound tyre, so we decided to go onto the harder tyre for the final lap, which was a step forward. I didn't feel that good in the car and was struggling to find the balance, so I didn't get everything out of it for one flying lap. There's not been much time to react since Australia – only one week. The McLarens were strong in Australia and they are strong here, so they are the ones to beat. I think in race trim we might look a bit better, but nonetheless I think you can see that we don't have the easiest car to drive, we are aware of that and are pushing very hard.”
Red Bull teammate Mark Webber outqualified Vettel for the second race running and will start fourth on the grid. The Australian is predicting a tight race with no fewer than four teams showing impressive pace on Saturday.
“It wasn't too bad, we had a reasonable run. In Melbourne we were a bit stronger in the race than in qualifying and looking at the gap to pole today, it seems we are two or three tenths off, which is a step in the right direction. We will re-group and have a look at how we go tomorrow. We've made progress with the car from Melbourne though. It's tight between the first four rows, there's some very good performances going on from quite a few teams – it's good for the fans.”
Team Principal Christian Horner accepted that their grid positions reflected the current pace of the car in qualifying trim and expects to go better in the race.
“Fourth and fifth on the grid after Kimi's penalty is probably what we expected going into qualifying today. The McLarens have looked very strong all weekend. We elected to take a different approach with both drivers tomorrow, with Mark qualifying on the softer tyre and Sebastian on the harder tyre. Our long run pace has been encouraging throughout the weekend, so hopefully we can have a strong race tomorrow and put on a good show.”