Sebastian Vettel admitted he was satisfied to qualify third on the grid for the first French Grand Prix since 2008, although he felt the mistakes he made on his final fast lap in the top ten shootout prevented him from securing a front row start.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver ended just under four-tenths of a second shy of Lewis Hamilton’s pole setting time at the Circuit Paul Ricard, while Valtteri Bottas also got ahead of the German to make it an all-Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport front row.
Vettel rued the mistakes that left him on the second row, but he feels Ferrari has a strong car again this weekend as he bids for a fourth victory of the season after previous triumphs in Australia, Bahrain and Canada, and he will be starting on the Ultrasoft Pirelli on Sunday as opposed to the Supersoft that Hamilton, Bottas and the two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers will utilise.
“During the session it was getting better and better and I was more confident,” said Vettel, who leads the Drivers’ Championship heading into Sunday’s race by one point over Hamilton. “So, I think today we can be happy with the third place.
“My last run was not spectacular, though, and I don’t think it was good enough to put me on the front row. After my first attempt in Q3, I had thought I could be closer to Mercedes and hoped to improve. But, unfortunately, in my last fast run I pushed a bit too much and made some mistakes here and there.
“Anyway, the car is good and we proved it. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, as we start with different tyre strategies. I think the car should be strong in the race”.