Sebastian Vettel will start the Japanese Grand Prix from seventh on the grid once the Scuderia Ferrari driver takes his three-place penalty for his first lap collision with Nico Rosberg in Malaysia, and felt that he lost some ground in the final sector that could have seen him start higher.
The German set the fourth fastest time during the session, just 0.079 seconds behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, and despite his penalty, Vettel felt the session was a positive one for the Italian team, especially as both drivers were able to get within four-tenths of a second of the pole time of Rosberg.
“It has been a great result for us as a team; as for myself, obviously I messed up a bit in Q3 with the last sector, and lost a bit too much time,” said Vettel.
“But, all in all, it has been a very good qualifying, our car has been handling well all through the sessions, due to a combination of many things, and it’s satisfying to be with both cars ahead of the Red Bulls.”
Vettel believes the pace is there in the car to improve on his starting position on Sunday, and expects a closely fought battle with the Red Bull’s and Mercedes’ at Suzuka.
“For sure, tomorrow I’ll have to start a bit further back because of the grid penalty, but this is what it is, we take it,” said Vettel. “Even so, I think the speed will help us to come back and then we’ll see what we can do. I think it will be a close fight.
“Much will depend on how people handle their tyres, because in the first stint everybody starts on the same compound, then we see how the strategies develop.”