Sebastian Vettel felt it was the right call by the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team to get through Q2 on the soft Pirelli tyres, and he will be aiming for points on Sunday despite having been handed a three-place grid penalty post-session for blocking Fernando Alonso.
The German initially qualified eighth but will drop to eleventh thanks to the penalty, but he believes the soft tyre gamble, with the AMR21 looking like it had the potential to qualify on the medium compound, was the right way to go.
“We can certainly aim for points tomorrow and I am happy with our approach to start on the Soft tyres,” said Vettel. “They will not last as long as the Mediums or Hards, but it will be a fast tyre so let’s wait and see what we can do tomorrow.
“We made some small improvements across all the sessions and the car has been better balanced today. We have been competitive all weekend and it is the first time this year that both cars have been in Q3.
“If we can run in some clean air tomorrow, we will be able to show some decent race pace.”
Vettel apologised to Alonso for the block that cost him three places on the grid and the Spaniard an opportunity to make it into Q3, but he felt other drivers backed up in between the final two corners that caused a knock-on effect when it was his turn to begin his final lap.
“It is a shame that Fernando [Alonso] had his lap impacted during Q2,” said Vettel. “All the drivers agreed yesterday to slow down on the straights between Turns Eight and Nine, which I did, but other drivers jumped the queue, then slowed down in the final corners, which is not allowed.
“That backed me up as well. It is a strange situation and something that is really difficult to avoid. I am sorry for Fernando because there is nothing he could have done.”
“I think we could potentially have started a little bit higher up” – Lance Stroll
Team-mate Lance Stroll will start ninth on the grid once Vettel takes his penalty, with the Canadian having joined the German in Q3 – the first time both Aston Martin’s had made it together into the top ten shootout.
Like Vettel, Stroll will start the race on the soft tyre, but the Canadian was not happy with his performance in Q3, feeling he could have qualified higher up than he did.
However, he is confident about Aston Martin’s race pace, and he feels they can score a good number of points on Sunday afternoon at the Red Bull Ring.
“We can be happy with qualifying today because starting inside the top 10 gives us a good shot at points tomorrow,” said Stroll. “In hindsight, I think we could potentially have started a little bit higher up.
“The car felt good in Q2 and the laps came together nicely, but it was a little bit more tricky to put clean laps together during Q3. We could see today that teams were considering both the Soft and Medium tyres in qualifying, so the compounds could be quite close to each other.
“That is something for us to go away and think about for tomorrow because strategy could be more important with the softer tyre compounds this time out. We will go do our homework and come back tomorrow to fight for points.”