Despite missing out on pole to Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel believes that Scuderia Ferrari can take positives from their performance in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Vettel was just nine-hundredths of a second of Hamilton’s pole position time, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver beating the track record at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace – a feat that Vettel managed in Free Practice 3 earlier in the day.
The German avoided a grid penalty or even disqualification from the qualifying standings, after failing to adhere to weighbridge protocol and switching off his engine. Additionally, Vettel damaged the scales by driving off of them in a bid to change tyres in Qualifying 2 as the threat of rain loomed over Interlagos. Consequently, Vettel was handed a reprimand and a €25,000 fine after the session.
Pre-hearing, Vettel was not willing to elaborate on the matter, wishing to look at the promise shown in qualifying. However, the Ferrari driver admitted to making a “small mistake” in the middle sector that cost him valuable time.
“I think what happened today with the scales is clear, so I believe we should just talk about qualifying,” he said.
“Today we had some good laps and tyre management was really good. On my last run in Q3, I made a small mistake in Turn 8 and that cost me some time and momentum.
“I knew I had to push a little more, maybe it would work and maybe not, and in the end it didn’t work, but I am not complaining, as the car felt really good to drive.”
Vettel will start on the soft compound tyres for tomorrow’s race, contrasting the Mercedes cars directly ahead of behind him. His team-mate, Kimi Räikkönen, will also start on the yellow-walled tyres from fourth. When looking at the knock-on effect of the the strategy Vettel ceded that Ferrari may lose out at the start, but noted that the run to Turn 1 – just 334m – may counteract the issue.
“Starting on the Option tyres tomorrow may be useful for the race, unless it rains of course,” Vettel mused.
“We also have an estimate of what the disadvantage might be right at the getaway, through having less grip, but it’s a very short run to Turn 1, so we’ll see.
“I think a lot will depend on the job we do at the start to get everything right.”