Sebastian Vettel will start the Japanese Grand Prix from the front row of the grid on Sunday despite qualifying third, with Valtteri Bottas’ grid penalty for a gearbox change promoting him up the order.
But the Scuderia Ferrari driver admitted to being a little too aggressive on his final run to try and deny Lewis Hamilton pole position, eventually finishing 0.472 seconds behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer.
“I think the car was very good today,” commented Vettel, “and I was happy with it, but it was just not enough for pole position.
“In my last run, I tried to push maybe a little too much, knowing that Valtteri wasn’t a threat because of his grid penalty, but it didn’t work. But overall, our car was fine.”
Vettel feels Ferrari will be in the hunt for victory on Sunday, believing that the SF70H is a better car in racing conditions, and with the team around him he has confidence that he can battle for the win that would help close the gap in the championship to Hamilton.
“Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and hot, which makes the difference and then we’ll see,” said Vettel. “We normally have a stronger car in the race than in Quali.
“It’s important to have a good balance here and then you can always try something with the stops. Also, I am confident we should have a good start, and that is important, but after that there are a lot of laps and strategy is important as well.
“In terms of pace, hopefully we should be closer to our competitors. We’ll see tomorrow.”