Sebastian Vettel had to settle for P3 post qualifying today, as Ferrari and Vettel just couldn’t get into the groove when needed, and Hamilton, who put in a monster lap, snatched pole position away from his closest rival.
Vettel was dar off his game, as he couldn’t even outpace Verstappen today, with the Dutch star digging deep and dishing out a brilliant lap to land up on the first row.
While Vettel was clearly flustered with how qualifying had panned out, it could actually have been a lot worse, as Ferrari’s strategy to use the ultrasofts during Q2 almost backfired.
In the dying stages, both Ferrari cars switched onto the hypersofts and only then were they able to guarantee themselves a spot in Q3.
Vettel however was adamant on keeping the ultrasofts on, as he felt he had a second more in him with the tyres. Vettel and his engineer went back and forth discussing about the strategy and Vettel wasn’t really ready to let go.
However, in the end his engineer prevailed, forcing him to come to the pits and get those hypersofts on.(Radio message source: Racefans)
Engineer: Box, Sebastian, box.
Vettel: What is your thinking?
E: We move to quali(the hypersoft tyre).
V: I have lap time left
E: How much?
V: With a decent out lap, at least half a second
E: Okay, copy
V: How much do you need? Then I can tell you
E: 38.1. I think it’s not possible. And both Mercs on quali [hyper soft tyre] and Red Bull on quali [hyper soft tyre] as well.
V: I can do it, a 38.1
E: Understood. And box. So we believe is too tight so we go for quali [hyper soft tyre].
V: I am happy to go option [ultra-soft tyre]. That was not a good lap. The out-lap was too slow. Tyres were too cold.
E: I’ll come back to you
V: If you believe there is strong merit to start on the option [ultra-soft tyre] I can do it.
E: No we go on quali [hyper-soft tyre]. The decision is to go on quali [hyper-soft tyre]. The decision is too risky.
V: OK I follow you. I tell you I have more than half a second.
In the post qualification media address, Vettel admitted that Hamilton’s lap was not unbeatable and it was largely due to Ferrari’s problems that they couldn’t really challenge for P1.
“For sure I’m not happy with how the day went,” said Vettel.
“Qualifying for us wasn’t as smooth as it should have been, other people obviously have done better than us, and that’s why we’re third.
“I am not worried about the gap [to Hamilton], I don’t think it shows how strong we are. It’s just disappointing that we didn’t get the maximum out of our package.
“We were hoping for more than third,” he said.
“Lewis had a good lap, and congratulations to him, but I don’t think it was unbeatable.” he concluded.
Do you think Vettel can pull a rabbit out of the hat and beat Hamilton tomorrow?