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Vettel says Aston Martin ‘just didn’t have the pace’ at Portimao, as Q3 appearance goes unrewarded

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When Sebastian Vettel ended a 15-race streak without a Q3 appearance at Portimao, it appeared as though the four-time champion had made a performance breakthrough in the Aston Martin AMR21. But after struggling in the Portuguese Grand Prix before coming home P13, Vettel said there was still plenty of work ahead of both him and the team this season.

Having failed to make it out of Q1 in Bahrain and Q2 in Imola, Vettel made it all the way though to Q3 at Portimao, his first appearance in the final segment of qualifying since the British Grand Prix back in August, when he was driving for Ferrari.

RACE REPORT: Hamilton takes victory in Portugal after crucial overtakes on Verstappen and Bottas

But after eventually qualifying P10, Vettel’s race was then a hard slog, as both he and 17th-place starting team mate Lance Stroll struggled for race pace – Aston briefly swapping the drivers around to see if that would make a difference before switching them back, with Vettel coming home 13th and Stroll 14th, Vettel having been passed by the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi 11 laps from the end.

“[It] was quite a busy and difficult race with a very long stint on the medium tyres,” said Vettel afterwards. “I think after 10 laps it was difficult to really keep close to the group ahead [featuring McLaren’s Lando Norris, the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly] and we just couldn’t stay with them and ultimately lost out. It looks like overall, we just didn’t have enough pace today to score points.

PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL - MAY 02: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine A521 Renault leads

Vettel said he couldn't hang on to the group in front of him

“I think we understand the car better and better but we are lacking a bit of speed, so we need to work on that,” he added. “I don’t think we could have done anything different with the strategy, but overall, we did not have enough pace or consistency to hold onto the group fighting for points.”

READ MORE: How shrewd race craft and brilliant tyre management allowed Hamilton to snatch victory in Portugal

There was a silver lining for Vettel, however, who will contest next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix sporting the upgrades used by team mate Stroll in Portugal, including tweaks to the floor – with 2011 Spanish Grand Prix winner Vettel hoping that that would help him out at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the German still yet to score a point as an Aston Martin driver.

“On the positive side, I will have some new parts on my car next week, which we feel are a step in the right direction,” said Vettel. “But the real priority is to have a clean Saturday, which is the key to a better Sunday.”

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Sebastian Vettel admits Aston Martin 'just didn't have enough pace today'

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