Vettel – “I think our performance matched our expectations”

by Vince Pettit

On the ninetieth anniversary of the formation of Scuderia Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel narrowly missed out on giving the team a perfect celebration after losing out to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen.

Vettel had shown strong pace throughout the three practice sessions leading up to qualifying and despite missing out on the top spot was happy to be starting the race from the front row.

“Max put in a strong lap and so we can be happy with a front row start,” revealed Vettel. “I think our performance matched our expectations and it is good that our lap time was reasonably close. It puts us in a good position for tomorrow.

“We improved the car, it felt better and it was coming alive in qualifying, I am reasonably optimistic that we are in good shape for the race, but we will have to wait and see.

It is supposed to be a bit warmer and it will be important to look after the tyres and to make the right strategy calls.

“It will also be key to get a good start. The weather is unpredictable here in Interlagos, there could be sunshine but it might rain. 71 laps means it’s a long race and I think it will be fun.”

Teammate Charles Leclerc faced frustration in qualifying as he felt he could have performed better.

“It was not the best qualifying,” said Leclerc. “The team gave me a great car and I believe that the potential was there for us to take pole today.

“I am disappointed about the mistake I made on the last corner of my first lap in Q3, because I lost about three tenths there.”

While Leclerc was frustrated to have not finished higher than fourth place he knows it wouldn’t have made too much difference in the bigger picture, with having to take a ten-place grid penalty for a change of engine this weekend.

“It doesn’t change too much though because I will be starting from the midfield tomorrow due to the grid penalty we have received.

“We completed some high fuel runs in Free Practice 3 to work on our race pace, as this is where we have the most room for improvement.

We will do our best to apply what we learned there in the race. It’s good that we qualified on the medium tyres and I hope that we will be able to gain an advantage and pass some of the cars ahead. It won’t be an easy race and I will give the maximum to make up as many places as possible and hopefully fight for a podium.”

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal was realistic about the day and not too disappointed to have lost out on pole position to Verstappen.

“As usual here in Brazil, because of the very short lap length, qualifying was really close with very small gaps between the cars. Max deserved pole, but the group behind him is split by just a few tenths and hundredths,” said Binotto.

“As for our performance, second and fourth is still a good result and Seb can have a good race starting from the front row.

Echoing the thoughts of Leclerc, Binotto is expecting a strong performance from the Medium compound Pirelli tyres in the race.

It’s shame Charles has to start further down the order tomorrow. At least he is on the Medium tyres which suited him and that will be important in the first stint, because we expect that tyre to perform more consistently and be less susceptible to the effects of temperature. He did a good lap, apart from a mistake in the final corner and but for that, I think he could have set the fastest time.

We know anything can happen tomorrow and we will try and run a good race. The track is evolving a lot, given that this morning it was very different to yesterday.

“In qualifying, our drivers felt the car was working better than in Free Practice 3, when we concentrated on car balance to best manage tyre degradation, but it’s hard to predict what might happen in the race.”

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