Sebastian Vettel has admitted that McLaren came close to getting both of its cars between himself and polesitting Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber after running into mechanical problems in the third and final phase of qualifying.
The German topped both the final free practice session on Saturday morning and the opening two phases of qualifying, setting himself up as favourite for Red Bull's seventh pole of the season, but it was Webber who eventually came out on top, with Lewis Hamilton also getting ahead of Vettel as he appeared to have trouble slowing 'Randy Mandy' in the ten-man shoot-out.
"Q1 and Q2 were very smooth, and I was very happy with the car, no problems," the German commented, "Then, in the last session, the first lap was brilliant up until turn twelve. Under braking, I slightly locked the front, which was no issue, but then it was very weird as the inside front just kept on locking and never came back.
"After turn twelve, going into turn 13, turning to the right, the wheel started turning again. Then the same thing going into turn 14, the last corner, where I locked the inside of the wheel very easily. The car didn't seem to stop, so I just went straight and I lost a lot of time there. That was quite bad, otherwise I think it should have been easily quite a lot quicker.
"I thought 'okay, maybe I was just a bit late', but on the second run I got the confirmation in the first lap, the first turn, when I hit the brakes and I just went straight. I lost the ability to stop the car properly."
The frustration was clear to see, especially with Webber having out-qualified him for the third race running, and Vettel admitted that he was close to being pushed back a further place as McLaren showed better pace compared to the RB6 at Istanbul Park.
"It is good to be third, but I think we are quite lucky not to be fourth, [as there are] just for a couple of hundredths to Jenson [Button]," he noted, "Otherwise, I would have had to start from the dirty side. We are on the clean side tomorrow, so let's see. It's a long race but, with this year's regulations and no more fuel stops, it is a bit difficult to make up places.
Red Bull Racing later confirmed a broken roll-bar as the reason for Vettel's lack of pace during Q3, but will be allowed to replace the part without being penalised, giving the German increased confidence for the race.
"I think we made a big step forward [with the new chassis]," he confirmed, "Apart from the [problem with the old] chassis, we had a couple of other things we found that possibly let us down. Obviously, in Monaco, we finished second but, at some stage, we lost more than a second to Mark. That was obviously too much and I think that, for the whole of this weekend, it was quite a bit better [except], when it counted, it didn't all come together."