Sebastian Vettel believes that both he and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo can pick up good results from the Bahrain Grand Prix, despite starting in the middle of the grid.
The German was left to rue an uncharacteristic spin in final practice, as well as handful of niggling problems with his RB10, as he failed to progress beyond the second round of qualifying for the second time in three races, but will start further up the grid than his team-mate, who drops from an impressive third to 13th after the penalty he picked up in Malaysia last weekend.
Despite struggling for pace after failing to complete a qualifying simulation in FP3, and carrying gremlins that had still to be ironed out from earlier in the day, Vettel is confident that Ricciardo's performance is indicative of what Red Bull can achieve, even if Mercedes-powered cars dominated the top ten in the first dry qualifying session of the season so far.
“[Ricciardo] didn't set his car up for qualifying but, equally, you try to set your car up for both [qualifying and race] conditions,” he explained, “It's not exactly the same set-up that we run, but I don't think the difference in driving style is that massive. I think, in terms of speed, we should be the same - I was probably a bit down in terms of straight line speed because of the issues we had earlier today, but we should be the same tomorrow.
“I think [I can overtake in the race] – obviously, it depends who I have to overtake, but I think it is always possible and I hope we find the right strategy to use the pace of the car. Once we are in free air, we should be fine – but, obviously, it is easier to be in free air when you start from pole rather than tenth!
“[Ricciardo] did what he could and did what the car is able to do. If you look at the gap from there, it is quite big. It helps him because it puts him in 13th for tomorrow, which is a lot better than starting further back, but it's a shame because otherwise he could have been P3. We felt in testing that it could be a difficult track for us as we are down on power and here you need some power, but that's how it is. Nevertheless, we have a good chance to put the car in a fairly good place in the points.”
Vettel was heard on the radio complaining about the downshifts on his car after Q2, and he later confirmed that the issue had affected his ability to progress.
“We had some issues with the shifts from one run to the other, from the final run in Q1 to Q2 something went wrong and we couldn't fix it in time and the lap was compromised,” he acknowledged, “How much [the problem] affected the lap is difficult to measure, but surely it didn't help. The car behaviour wasn't the way I expected and wanted, but I'm not a fan of blaming something in particular. But it didn't help and, yes, without it, I would probably have made it to Q3.”
Asked about his indiscretion earlier in the day, Vettel admitted that the off between turns two and three had been his fault.
“I spun off - simple as that!” he confirmed, “Obviously, it was a bit of a shame because the car switched off, stalled basically, so the software didn't work and catch the anti-stall in time and I couldn't carry on. Fortunately, I didn't get stuck in the gravel but, unfortunately, the engine was off. We didn't need the crane and the guys could just push the car out, so at least the track was green for the other guys.”