Sebastian Vettel has admitted that third on the grid, at a distance of more than half a second from pole, was the best he and Ferrari could have hoped to achieve in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The German occupied a similar position during the various practice sessions t Interlagos, and even split the two Mercedes after catching a convenient patch of cloud cover in Q2, but conceded that the SF15-T was never going to be a match for the pace-setting W06s, which Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton used to wrap up the front row.
“[The time difference] gave us hope in Q2, but I also saw that Nico had quite a few mistakes in his lap, so I know that, in Q3, it would be difficult to get really close,” the four-time world champion acknowledged.
“I think we were able to improve the car from yesterday, which is the most important thing looking forward to tomorrow's race, but there is no doubt that I would love to be a bit closer. Nevertheless, [third] is the optimum for us today [but] tomorrow could be an interesting one. Yesterday, there were a lot of people sliding, including ourselves, so, with the tyres [not enjoying grip], it could be an interesting race.”
While he may not hold out high hopes for Brazilian success, Vettel insisted that he was not about to give up on second place in the championship with the Abu Dhabi race still to come. Although Rosberg only needs to score five points more than him this weekend, Vettel is optimistic that he can be a threat to the Mercedes duo in the final round.
“I think we have reason to be confident,” he claimed, “I think the car is working on all types of circuits – maybe some suit us less, but I think Abu Dhabi should be alright for us given the nature of the track. There are no real high-speed corners, just the first sector, then it's fairly stop-and-go and I think we can easily be competitive. Conditions will be very different but there is more reason to be confident.
“The season is coming to an end slowly but I think, looking at the last couple of months, we have managed to get closer. Of course, from race to race and track to track, the gap can vary a bit, but I think things are heading in our direction.”