Sebastian Vettel believes that Red Bull is well-placed to make life difficult for Mercedes in the Chinese Grand Prix, but admits that he would prefer it if the rain continued into race day.
The German was out-qualified by both Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, but lines up ahead of the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg after the world championship leader spun on his final flying lap. Persistent rain made life tricky for everyone, but acted as something of a leveller that allowed the field to move a little closer to the front of the field.
Despite not being entirely happy with his car, Vettel claimed that, by splitting the Mercedes drivers, Red Bull was in position to challenge on Sunday, even though the conditions may move back in favour of the Silver Arrows.
“In wet conditions, I think we have a bit more of a chance,” the four-time champion confirmed, “In dry conditions, they are a little bit too quick and too far away, but let's see what happens tomorrow.
“We knew that, in wet conditions, probably we can be closer, a bit similar to what we have seen so far this year in qualfiying. In Australia, Daniel qualified P2, in Malaysia we were pretty close, and again here, maybe not that close this time, but closer than we were yesterday and at the last race.”
With the predictions for race day somewhat unclear, Vettel admitted that continued rain would be more beneficial for Red Bull, but still believed that the world champions could be a threat.
“They say the weather should be fine tomorrow but, around here, you cannot really trust the forecast - the best thing is to look out the window in the morning and see what you have!” he commented, “That's very much the plan.
“I think the weather forecast is dry so, for sure, we'll try. I think we are in the best positions to try and give them a very hard time.”
With Saturday being wet throughout, the German also identified another problem should the conditions continue into raceday.
“In terms of tyres, we're a little compromised for the race should it be wet because we used most of the tyres today,” he noted, “But I think people weren't concerned to do so because tomorrow should be dry. We expect dry conditions and, hopefully, we can finish where we started.”
However, when asked whether, having split the Mercedes in qualifying, Red Bull could contemplate challenging for victory, Vettel was a little more circumspect.
“I think, if we put two chicanes in all the straights, then yes,” he joked.