Sebastian Vettel was unsurprised by Ferrari’s failure to fight for pole position in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, saying the team had expected to struggle at the Hungaroring “for a long time”.

Vettel qualified fifth on Saturday, one position behind teammate Charles Leclerc and almost half a second off pole-sitter Max Verstappen’s time for Red Bull. The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton also comfortably beat both Ferraris to take P2 and P3 on the grid respectively. 

While Vettel felt he could have found more time in his final qualifying lap, he does not think there was enough left on the table to challenge for the top three on the grid.

“Maybe I had a little bit in Sector 2, I wasn’t entirely happy in Q3, but overall I believe yes, we need to be realistic,” Vettel said.

“We’re lacking pace in the corners, not in the straights. That’s why Sector 1 is pretty good, but then I think we’ll struggle to keep the tyres alive and we’ll struggle for grip in the last couple of corners. That’s where we lose most.

“It was a tricky session for us, but in a way a confirmation of the picture that we’ve been drawing the last couple of weeks and months. We know our car is very good down the straights, but not the best in the corners.”

Asked if he found the result frustrating, Vettel replied: “Not frustrating. We saw it coming for a long time.

“It’s a trend that we are not so fast in the corners, we are fastest in the straights. Here there are more corners than straights, so you can do the maths.”

Tyre degradation is often a concern for drivers at the Hungaroring, but Vettel hopes a repeat on Sunday could create an opportunity for Ferrari.

“I hope it’s very tough on tyres. I hope it will be super-hot and very, very difficult in the race,” Vettel said.

“That way at least we can put some pressure and maybe do something different. If it’s straightforward and the tyres last and it’s one-stop, then a bit less exciting.

“Overtaking is possible here, but we need to be faster. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”