Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel says the potential was there for the team to do better than fourth place this weekend.
Having got a respectable launch off the line, though still losing out on second place to Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Valtteri Bottas, the German was unlucky to be tagged by another driver in what was a chaotic start, shaving off part of his front wing as well as causing damage to other bodywork.
“I think my start was not particularly good but at the same time not that bad either.
“The car was good, I think it was clear that today we could have been better than fourth, but that’s how we finished and what is done is done.”
The safety car was deployed on lap 1 following a collision between Carlos Sainz Jr, Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa, and because of the slow running behind the safety car, the damage sustained to the SF70-H from the earlier touch, did not become apparent until they were back up to speed.
That saw Vettel have to take an earlier pit stop than he would have liked, relegating him towards the back end of the grid, with plenty to do to make his way back up the order.
How much the damage affected his performance is difficult to ascertain, but the German stated that the car certainly felt different to how it had throughout the rest of the weekend.
“Overall, we know we have a strong car. Looking back at the start, Bottas and I were trying to go from the inside when Max came around but these things can happen.
Then, with the safety car on track I did not realize that the damage to the front wing was as bad as it actually was, we only noticed it at full speed.
“There was also some additional damage to the other part of the bodywork, hard to say what they cost me in terms of lap time, but the car did not feel as the one I had driven in the past two days.”
Despite the odd feeling he was now getting from the SF70-H, Vettel definitely still had the pace, and had not given up just yet.
But although he was able to chase down the two Sahara Force India F1 Team drivers, in fourth and fifth, it was just too much of an ask for him to catch Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo too, and the German eventually missed out on a podium spot by just seven tenths of a second.
“The pace was there and I would have liked some more laps to finish on the podium, the trophy here looked nice… That was my target and I missed it. But, we are growing up as a team.”