Sebastian Vettel was left ruing his ten-place grid penalty for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix after originally qualifying a superb third in Sepang – but he has nonetheless vowed to give it his all in the race, arguing that 'nothing is impossible'.
The Red Bull Racing star achieved the third-quickest time in Q3 for the second weekend in succession, having similarly done so to mark himself out as 'best-of-the-rest' behind the all-conquering Brawn GP duo of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello in the curtain-raising outing Down Under in Melbourne seven days ago.
This time around he had to give best to Toyota ace Jarno Trulli rather than Barrichello, but the demotion for his late-race coming-together with BMW-Sauber rival Robert Kubica in Australia – unjust in the eyes of many – means Formula 1's youngest-ever race-winner will have to take the start from an unlucky 13th.
“I have the penalty and there's nothing I can do about that,” the 21-year-old acknowledged. “The secret is just to focus on what I'm here to do and I'm here to race, so that's what we do.
“Of course it's a shame to see the car performing at a good level in Q1, Q2 and Q3 and know that we have a plus ten tomorrow; we were up in the top five throughout. It will be a very tough day tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to it and nothing is impossible. I'm hoping for some rain, as that can mix things up quite a lot, but let's see.”
Vettel's penalty – allied to that of Barrichello for a practice gearbox change – has lifted team-mate Mark Webber two spots up the grid to fifth, after the Australian had initially trailed the sister RB5 by just under three tenths of a second. The 32-year-old hinted that having lapped second-fastest in FP3, he had perhaps been hoping for a little bit more – even if he is quietly confident for race day.
“Qualifying's tight!” confessed the New South Wales native, “but that was quite an enjoyable session. It would be nice to have a bit more of a cushion between us and the other cars, but that's not what it's about at the moment and seventh is the best I could do. With the strategy we're on, we'll see how we go tomorrow.”
In getting both drivers inside the top seven on merit, Red Bull certainly seem to be staking their claim as a regular front-runner in 2009, and if you take the reputed half-second advantage of the 'diffuser three' teams out of the equation, then the Milton Keynes-based outfit looks to be the best-placed of all. That is a fact that is far from lost on team principal Christian Horner.
“A strong team qualifying performance today,” the Englishman concluded. “Both Mark and Sebastian are looking quick, but we're just too far behind the double-decker diffusers at the moment. Unfortunately, Sebastian has his ten-place penalty to take, but hopefully he can have a bit of luck tomorrow.”