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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Ferrari race pace will be better

01 Oct 2016

Fifth on the grid behind both Mercedes and both Red Bulls was not quite what Sebastian Vettel had been expecting from qualifying in Malaysia. But with Ferrari’s long-run pace on Friday looking strong, the four-time world champion is hoping for brighter things in Sunday’s Grand Prix…

Q: Sebastian, did P5 correspond with your own expectations for today’s qualifying?

Sebastian Vettel: Well, in reality I had thought that it would be a bit tighter - that the gap would be smaller to P3. That the two guys in the front would be ahead is no surprise - we expected that. But P3 was on our radar. Then all qualifying we missed out something like one and a half tenths - that was a bit the central theme of this whole afternoon, especially as we had to come to terms with the fact that we were already been a bit behind in sector one. That was a pretty annoying, as you always think that you probably would have been able to squeeze another tenth or so out of your lap.

Q: If you recap your fast lap, what conclusions can you draw?

SV: Actually I was pretty satisfied. Maybe I was a bit too conservative in the last sector - but that is in hindsight and would have brought a gain of not more than five-hundredths, so no way could I have managed the missing one-and-a-half tenths. Otherwise I would have been sleeping all the previous laps! (Laughs)

Q: Last year you won here - your first win for Ferrari. Is that something that inspires you for the race?

SV: Last year is history. If we can achieve similar tomorrow, that would be fantastic - but it is in no way something to bank on. Mercedes are clearly the favourites and if they lose it would be big news. But there are chances of course - with a good start for example. At least we should finish on the podium.

Q: What can you take into the race from the long runs on Friday?

SV: I felt good in the car and I think that also goes for Kimi (Raikkonen). And from looking into the data we’ve been able to find some things that should help us in the race. My prediction is that it will be very tight, as even when you find some things you cannot expect a quantum leap. Much will depend on the tyres and the strategy. As everybody will have to use the hard tyres in the course of the race, that should help us a bit - but these are pure speculations right now. Of course, the conditions could also play a centre-stage role, as we have seen crazy scenes here in the past.

Q: After FP3 Jock Clear said that he could very well imagine that Ferrari will be the second power on the grid for the race. Was he too optimistic?

SV: As I just said, we’ve been missing out on time. And my best bet is that we would have been able to find five-hundredths on the track this afternoon - the one from my more conservative approach in sector three - but not much more.

Q: How much can team strategy do here?

SV: There is room for good strategic decisions. And the heat should come to our advantage over a long race.

Q: Ferrari are now behind Red Bull Racing in the constructors’ standing. Do you think you can take this place back?

SV: Yes.

Q: How?

SV: It is close and it is getting closer - and in general I believe that we are quicker. We weren’t quicker today, but our race pace is usually better - especially on tracks like this.