Sebastian Vettel agreed with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen that they probbly had a car good enough for the front row of the grid in Belgium, but admitted that his qualifying effort came up short.
The German had to settle for the outside of row two after his final lap proved to be four tenths shy of Nico Rosberg's pole time, and will start alongside Raikkonen on Sunday after the Finn admitted that a spot of understeer at the final chicane ended his own bid for top spot. Ironically, Vettel blamed the same combination of corners for his lap's demise...
RESULTS: Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
“Looks like we both struggled with the last corner, so hopefully, tomorrow, we will be friends with that chicane!” he joked, “Overall, the car was good. We made a big step from yesterday and it felt quite good throughout qualifying, but I had a bit of a wobble on my last attempt so it wasn't great as I didn't put everything together.
“I didn't have as much grip as I was expecting [exiting the chicane]. I think I did a good job lining up the last corner, and particularly the exit, trying to be fairly straight and get good traction but, when I went on the power, I had a lot of wheel-slip. I think everybody's been struggling, the tyres are getting very hot even if it's just one lap, and everybody seemed to struggle in the last chicane, [but] I was a bit upset as I was expecting more and didn't get the benefit of taking off some speed beforehand to prepare for the exit.”
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The talk on Friday night had been that Ferrari looked like it was struggling to keep pace with both Mercedes and, more importantly, Red Bull, but Vettel confirmed that a lot of hard work had gone in to making the cars more competitive.
“A lot depends on what others are doing, but we improved the car,” he said, “We worked on the set-up, springs and bars, and had a look at the downforce levels as well, but, in the end, we ended up pretty similar to yesterday in that regard. Overall, there was much more balance in the car and, for sector two, which is where all the corners are, if you have a bit ore trust and feel in the car, you extract more lap time and go faster.”
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Having survived a moment with Kevin Magnussen that raised his ire in FP3 – the pair discussed the matter with the stewards and agreed thee was no need for penalties – Vettel admitted that he was surprised at Mercedes' apparent lack of pace, even though Rosberg ultimately took pole.
“I was a bit surprised that they weren't faster on the supersoft but, equally, they didn't run that much on that tyre this weekend as they didn't bring so much,” the four-time world champion reasoned, “We'll see tomorrow. It won't be a race on supersoft tyres, so that's why we decided to start on the soft, but people's tyre choice is now much clearer, what they have in their bag for the race tomorrow. What they do with it has to be seen, but I think we have a plan. We stuck to starting on the soft tyre and now we'll take it from there.”
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