Jean-Eric Vergne believes that a team decision to switch him to slick tyres in the second phase of qualifying may have cost him a place in the top ten.
Having comfortably made it through the perilously wet Q1 on Saturday evening, the Frenchman was showing well in the still tricky conditions when qualifying resumed on Sunday morning, but an ill-timed decision to swap Pirelli's intermediates for the supersoft slick ultimately saw other drivers able to post quicker times towards the end of the 15-minute session.
“Qualifying was going quite well on my first run but, when I came into the pits after the long first run on intermediates, I was expecting to fit the same type of tyres again,” Vergne revealed, “But the team opted to put me on slicks….
“I believed they had a better picture of the situation than I did, but it turned out to be the wrong choice and cost me a chance to get into Q3, which is a shame. All the same, 13th isn't bad and I'll be aiming for points this afternoon.”
Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo qualified 14th fastest, despite also believing that he had a chance of making the final phase, but remained optimistic about his race chances.
“The beginning of the session, when the track was at its dampest, went quite well, but, within a couple of laps, I was already experiencing problems with the rear of the car and I sensed it would get more difficult as the track dried,” the Australian reported, “I feel we didn't have the set-up quite right and we need to look into that now. It's always tricky in mixed conditions. We were aiming for Q3 but, from 14th on the grid, there's still a chance of having a good race in a few hours from now.”