Vettel 'surprised' by Red Bull's straight-line speed in Brazil
Sebastian Vettel lost out on pole position in Brazil by just 0.123s to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Afterwards he admitted to being rather taken aback by his rival’s straight-line speed, especially as Ferrari have been the dominant force in this department of late.
“I’m a bit surprised with the speed Honda had down the straights, I don’t know where that came from," he said. "I think it’s funny a little bit. I don’t know how.
“I think we have been fast down the straights for the entire season starting for the first couple of races and we are still fast and they haven’t been, and now they are.”
Alluding to Red Bull’s recent rule query over fuel flow metering - which Verstappen had quipped might have been the reason for Ferrari's Austin performance dip - Vettel joked: “I don’t know, maybe they need to make an explanation.”
However, it's worth noting that it was Ferrari counterpart Charles Leclerc who set the fastest times in Sectors 1 and 3 at Interlagos - the power sectors - with Verstappen setting the pace in the twisty middle sector.
Red Bull’s race pace may be marginally superior to Ferrari’s, as our Friday Pace Analysis showed, but Vettel was cautiously optimistic over his hopes of usurping Verstappen.
“Well, today was quali so, hard to say, but I think we improved the car, it felt better, but it was coming alive in qualifying.
“I’m reasonably optimistic for tomorrow that we should be in good shape, but I think tomorrow is supposed to be a bit warmer as well so it will be key to look after the tyre strategy to make the right call.
“It’s a long race you know, we have 71 laps here and you are easily tempted by three, four laps for yourself or others to maybe jump and maybe make a decision on strategy, but you only find out at the end whether it was the right one."
Vettel has just one win under his belt this season, in Singapore, while he scored five in 2018 and another five in 2017. And he has plenty to fight for even though the championship’s been sealed, with third up for grabs – and his team mate Leclerc starting 14th.