Vettel ended the session in second place, just 0.051 seconds behind Hamilton’s Mercedes, but things could have been a lot worse for the German.
During the qualifying Q1 the Italian outfit discovered a water leak in the Ferrari power unit, his team had performed an engine change in record time but, after thanking the team on the radio, Vettel suddenly slowed and was advised to pull over and retire from the session.
Luckily, Vettel queried the decision and was given orders on how to restart the system which allowed him to recover from the potentially title ruining condition.
“I don’t know how the mechanics did it”, said Vettel after the end of the session. “It’s a lot of work to put together. I want to say a big thanks to the team. This morning we couldn’t do what we wanted to. We know the track and the car, and I know that it is working. In the end we could have got pole position, but I missed the apex at the chicane. I was a bit late and lost a bit of time there.
But, overall, putting the car on the front row is a massive success. I think we worked really well. We realized that there was an issue and that we could fix it. Tomorrow, with the race rhythm, it will be fine, because when you get into the pace it is easier. A good start looks always good, so we’ll see, but I am confident for tomorrow and I always try to keep a smile”.
Raikkonen was not as happy, as some small errors during his last flying lap meant that he missed third slot on the grid by 0.066 secs. “The car has been working well the whole weekend and I’m happy with that, but I’m disappointed with the qualifying result . Track conditions were a bit tricky today, better than yesterday though. Although I felt I had a lot of speed I struggled here and there, making small mistakes, hitting the kerb, running wide, so I did not put a good lap together.
Tomorrow we’ll try again. We can make hundreds of different plans for the race, but there’s no guarantee things will run as we wish. We know the strategies of our two cars, but we don’t know what the others will do. We’ll try to react in the right time and take the right decisions. The length of the DRS area has been increased: we don’t know if it will make a big difference, but it’s probably going to help a little bit “.