Sebastian Vettel felt he had the pace to take pole for the United States Grand Prix in Austin after being “too conservative” on his opening Q3 lap cost him P1 to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel entered qualifying at the Circuit of The Americas looking to continue Ferrari’s pole position streak into a seventh race, only to fall 0.012 seconds shy of Bottas’ pole time and qualify second overall.

Vettel set his fastest lap on his opening run in Q3 as drivers struggled to improve in the closing stages of the session, but revealed afterwards that he had left some margin for fear of losing the lap altogether by exceeding track limits.

“It was OK. I don’t know the gap, it was very small, like one or two hundredths - that is always there,” Vettel said.

“I had a very good first lap, and I had some margin in maybe the last sector where I was maybe taking it a little bit too conservative, making sure that I finished the lap and set the lap first, and then improved on the second lap.

“Unfortunately I didn’t improve, so my plan didn’t quite work, but overall it was good. I think we will have a strong race tomorrow.

“The car felt a lot better today than yesterday, which is obviously what we needed. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Vettel offered a bleak forecast for Ferrari’s chances in the race after Friday’s practice running at COTA, but was more upbeat following qualifying, believing the changes made overnight will help over the long runs.

“Overall I think the car felt better this morning. We changed quite a couple of things, which I think helped and will also help in the race,” Vettel said.

“How the pace will be, obviously we will find out tomorrow, but at this stage I am quite content.

“I think we also struggled on the Hard tyres, but I think we should get them to work and that shouldn’t be an issue tomorrow.”



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