Sebastian Vettel says he is still eyeing a podium finish in the Belgian Grand Prix from eighth position on the grid despite ending up on the wrong side of a tight qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Ferrari driver, who has only started off the front two rows twice this year, found himself mired amongst most of the Mercedes-powered cars during Q3 and was already under pressure to maintain his impressive qualifying form even before he made a mistake into the final corner.
Prompting a poor exit on the run to the line, Vettel was left ninth on the timesheets – just three tenths off third -, though this becomes eighth when Romain Grosjean's penalty ahead is taken into account.
Though he isn't convinced he would have been fast enough for third anyway, Vettel was frustrated to make his race day more difficult.
“It was disappointing considering I had a good feel throughout qualifying and the worst part for us was the last one as we only had one set of tyres due to the red flag earlier,” he said. “The lap was fine until the last corner, when I went in a bit too deep and had a poor exit. On a day like today, it is very costly as it was very tight from P3 onwards. We were on the right end of it in Q2 and the wrong end in Q3.”
On what has been an indifferent weekend for Ferrari thus far, Vettel nonetheless remains confident he can pick his way up the order and dismisses the notion that the Mercedes-powered cars have the advantage.
“Always,” he responded when asked whether he can still score a podium. “I think we have made impressive progress on our side, I think our straight line speed is good and that is what makes me confident for the race tomorrow because it is a place you can overtake so we should be in the right place.
“I think we are quicker than the cars in front, so we will see how it works out. . We have the whole race and I think we will be able to recover.”