Having conceded that Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber had been 'unbeatable' in Sunday's German Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel went further and admitted that his qualifying performance had probably contributed to him missing out on a home victory.
The German, a two-time race winner in 2009, had headed to the Nurburgring as pre-event favourite as Red Bull appeared to overhaul early-season pacesetter Brawn GP at Silverstone, but qualified only fourth as Webber and Brawn duo Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button lined up ahead of him. Vettel's position left him vulnerable to the KERS-assisted McLarens and Ferrari on the rows immediately behind him and, having been held up by the generally less potent cars as the race progressed, was left to rely on strategy to make the podium.
"I would be lying to you if I said that second is very, very good," the youngster admitted after following team-mate Webber across the line by a shade under ten seconds, "Of course I wanted to win, but I think, today, after starting fourth and losing a lot of positions on the first lap, second was all we could do.
"I was basically in the group led by Heikki [Kovalainen], then together with Felipe [Massa], Jenson and me. There was no way through and I lost a lot of time, which allowed Rubens and Mark to disappear in front. After that, I think it was more or less decided.
"If there's anything or anyone to blame, though, it's maybe myself in qualifying. On the last run, I was thinking I had two laps - it turned out to be only one but, in the end, on the lap I had, I possibly had the car to put on it pole but I didn't get the lap as perfect as usual and lost two tenths. That made a big difference. Then the threat was there from the start, with the KERS cars behind - I was the first one to be in the sh*t. What are you supposed to do? I turned into the first corner, I'm P7 or P8 and I started fourth.
"It's a strange feeling. I thought the start was alright because none of the guys in front of me had KERS and, all of a sudden, cars just kept flying past me - both McLarens and then Felipe. I tried to block him but, obviously, he was already side-by-side, so I opened up. Approaching turn one, I was feeling that I was starting from midfield and not P4!"
Although only having four cars lighter than him going to the grid, subsequent fuel strategy allowed Vettel to run longer than his direct championship rivals on the opening stint and the vault past the troublesome Massa in the closing stages.
"Having quite a lot of fuel on board, and the strategy, brought us back to where we finished," he confirmed, "but there was no way to pass Felipe, as he always used his special button when I was quite close. I was quite a bit quicker than all the pack, but couldn't get past. He used his KERS system very well to defend - every time when I was close, I could feel him pressing the button and opening up the gap, which gave him enough cushion for the rest of the straight, so it was impossible for me to start a manoeuvre.
"I was lucky to have the right strategy and, in the end, that brought us back to second position. In the second stint, we went onto the hard tyres and everything was fine, [and we were] able to recover and come back to second position, still with Felipe behind me, so I had to keep pushing until the end.
"I would have loved to win this race, because it's my home grand prix and especially because there were so many people around the track supporting me. But I'm not the oldest person on the grid, so I might have a couple of years left and some more attempts. I'm definitely looking forward to the next races and we will see what we can do."