'I thought we had more in hand' - Vettel ‘surprised’ by Q2 exit as Ferrari struggle in Austria
Sebastian Vettel confirmed during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix that Ferrari’s low-key performances so far this year had certainly not been sandbagging, as he suffered his first performance-related Q2 exit since joining the team in 2015. But the German was still targeting points on Sunday, as he prepared for a P11 start.
A scruffy final effort from Vettel in Q2 saw him pushed out of qualifying by his 10th-placed team mate Charles Leclerc by just 0.165s – with Leclerc going on to qualify a lowly P7 in Q3, nearly a second slower than his pole time last year. The performance led Vettel to confess that, despite the team having played down their chances ahead of the weekend, he’d nonetheless been shocked by their lack of pace.
“Surprised,” he said after his Q2 exit. “I thought that we had a little bit more in hand but it looks like the others were probably running a little bit more fuel or more conservative in practice.
“I wasn't quite happy with the car… more oversteer on entry than I would like, but we'll see. I think tomorrow is a different picture. Maybe with the track getting a bit hotter, it was a bit more costly for us today.”
With Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Racing Point all posting faster times than Ferrari in Q3, the team’s one-lap pace looks to be a cause for serious concern. But Vettel was more reassured about the team’s long run pace, after our Friday data showed them fourth fastest in that that metric, behind Mercedes, Racing Point and Red Bull.
“It's a long race,” said Vettel, ahead of Sunday’s 71-lap encounter. “I think in race trim we are always better. I think we'll be there to make up some ground and score some good points.”
It appears that Ferrari’s radically upgraded SF1000, set to arrive for the Hungarian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, simply can’t come quick enough.