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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Teams in the dark about rivals' pace

27 Aug 2016

Spa-Francorchamps threw up one of the closest qualifying sessions of the season on Saturday, with less than 0.2s to choose between the top three teams. But as Sebastian Vettel explains, that isn't the only reason to expect a scintillating race - teams are also having to guess at how competitive their rivals are, meaning they will have to think on their feet on Sunday...

Q: Sebastian, there has been a lot of talk about tyre life here in Spa, especially given the sweltering temperatures. How are you expecting it to play out tomorrow?

Sebastian Vettel: This is a question only Pirelli can answer. For the strategy we plan to do, we think that the tyres will last.

Q: So what is your plan?

SV: Do you really think I stand here and tell you our plans? This is race strategy and not a 'tell all moment'! (Laughs) What I can say is: we plan to race tomorrow and will pit sometimes. How often? That is only for us. 

Q: Will Max Verstappen's strategy alter yours? He is after all the only driver in the top five lining up on the supersoft, rather than soft, tyre...

SV: Well, I expect him to pit before us – otherwise we have done something terribly wrong. Then I would say that the race is over for us.

Q: Are there any second thoughts about qualifying behind team mate Kimi Raikkonen?

SV: The whole weekend we have been very close, and on my last fast lap I was not fully satisfied – I would say that explains the standing. Yes, it’s not ideal, but the gaps are so small that my guess is that it does not matter much for the race. We both have a good starting position, and there is still a long way to go before the chequered flag. Anything is possible! 

Q: If you say anything is possible, can you also fight for the win?

SV: Let's see. I was honestly surprised that Mercedes were not much faster today on the supersoft tyres. Although what that means for the race is hard to say, because a lot of people did lots of different things in the last two days. It's impossible to say how everybody will match up. 

Q: On the team radio you said qualifying was heavily dependent on the final corner...

SV: …and unfortunately I was right. It is a long lap and then find yourself somehow unstuck in the last corner is not really ideal. I have been fighting with this corner more or less all weekend long and I was very disappointed to realise in the end how little the grip was when it really mattered.

Q: Yesterday you weren't overly happy with the balance of your. Did that improve today?

SV: If you look at the gaps, obviously it improved. And I would say – and experience has shown that – in race trim we are even closer. So there is a lot of confidence for the race. I still believe that the race will be decided by the tyre choice and the strategy – and I hope that we will have the better end of it.

Q: You have won here twice before so you know how to do it. What will you need tomorrow to add another Spa feather to your hat?

SV: A good start would help a lot! A good first lap! I think we are on the right tyre to start the race and that should be an advantage in itself. It is a long race – and anything can happen here. This is Spa after all - there could even be rain in the air! I know that there is a saying about 'three times lucky' – I don’t know if that will happen tomorrow, but believe me I will try whatever I can.