Vettel takes solace in Ferrari pace after 'frustrating' Q3 car issue
Sebastian Vettel has now endured two difficult Q3 sessions in a row – but while a mysterious lack of pace at the French Grand Prix saw him qualify seventh there, the Ferrari man’s problems at the Austrian Grand Prix were more out of his control, after he suffered an issue on the air pressure line to the car’s engine that saw him fail to post a time in the segment.
The issue was discovered on Vettel’s SF90 at the tail end of Q2 – and while Ferrari’s mechanics worked frantically into Q3 to get the problem resolved, it soon became clear that the issue was terminal, with a resigned Vettel climbing out of his car as his rivals were still circling.
“Obviously the car was broken so we couldn’t fire it up and go, so we lost parts of Q2 and then Q3 completely,” said Vettel after the session. “We fairly quickly made the decision to change, but it’s not so easy. We had to obviously take the bodywork off and it’s not so easy to get there. The guys did everything they could, but we couldn’t do it in time.
“I knew that if we fixed it, most likely there would be one run, so I was trying to focus solely on that. But it didn’t happen.”
Obviously it’s frustrating, but nothing you can do inside the car, nobody’s fault. For sure we need to understand what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Vettel is set to line up in ninth for Sunday's race, once Kevin Magnussen's grid penalty is applied. Despite the obvious frustration of such a low starting slot – especially given that Leclerc was able to use his own Ferrari to secure pole position, and with a nice gap of 0.259s to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton that Vettel could have slotted neatly into to give Ferrari their second front row lock-out of the year – Vettel wasn’t writing off his chances for a strong Sunday, especially given the Ferrari’s SF90’s obvious pace around the track.
“Obviously it’s frustrating,” said Vettel, “but nothing you can do inside the car, nobody’s fault. For sure we need to understand what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“At least, as much of a pain as it is, it’s also good to see that the other car came through and obviously got pole. So happy for the team, obviously not happy for my side, but we’ll have a good day and a good race tomorrow.”
So yet another issue for Vettel and Ferrari to deal with in a year that’s had more than its fair share already. But with Vettel armed with the SF90’s class-leading grunt for Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring, it isn’t over just yet for the German…