Sebastian Vettel says he is unsure why he struggled so much during an “up and down” qualifying session for Formula 1’s French Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver could only manage the seventh-best time as he ended up being out-qualified by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and both McLaren drivers.

Having reported a small upshifting problem Vettel aborted his first Q3 run before putting in a lap that saw him finish over 1.4s off the pace of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and nearly a second adrift of Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.

“I don’t know what happened but I lost so much momentum that there was no point to finish that [first] lap,” Vettel explained.

“It was not great, up and down. Some laps felt great, others didn’t.

“In the end I didn’t get the best out of the car, which is not satisfying but as I said it was difficult for me because some laps it was really good - it was coming and some laps I don’t know why but I didn’t have the grip that I did on the runs before.

“It’s a shame that it happened in Q3, it would have been better to be slower in the other segments but that is what it is today.”

Ferrari brought a host of updates to Paul Ricard - including a new front and rear wing - in a bid to address the weaknesses of its complex SF90 challenger, though it has opted to revert back on a number of older items after Vettel reported they had not delivered as expected.

Asked if the upgrades would help him fightback through the field on Sunday, Vettel replied: “Well we reverted on most of them so obviously not the step that we expected.

“Tomorrow I think we have good pace to have a good race, obviously Mercedes is far away but we should be in the mix with Red Bull.”

 

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