Sebastian Vettel insists he could have beaten Lewis Hamilton to pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix if Ferrari had performed better as a team.
Hamilton described his pole lap as one of the best he could remember after stunning the rest of the field with his first attempt in Q3, going 0.6s clear of Vettel. While Max Verstappen split the two title rivals and none of the top three were able to improve with a second attempt, Vettel — who was fastest in FP3 — believes that is a reflection of a poor performance from himself and Ferrari.
“For us the qualifying didn’t go the way I think we planned it to be,” Vettel said. “Not just in terms of result — obviously we were hoping for more than third on the grid — but I think that’s one thing.
“Obviously the gap is quite big. I think Lewis had a really good lap, so congrats to him for the lap. I’m sure it was a good one. But I don’t think he was unbeatable but for us today, the way we composed qualifying, it was difficult to get a rhythm.
“I was struggling in Q1, Q2, Q3. I think other people did a better job. That’s including Lewis’ lap as an individual but also them as a team. And obviously it’s not what we wanted today to get third.”
Ferrari was forced to change its initial plan in Q2 when its first runs on ultrasoft tires proved uncompetitive and required the team to use hypersofts for a second attempt. Starting on ultrasofts would have provided a clear advantage because of the high level of degradation on the hypersofts, but Vettel doesn’t view it as a double failure.
“One doesn’t have anything to do with the other. So obviously in Q3 is when you qualify your position and Q2 is when you qualify your tire. So obviously it was clear what we tried to do. It didn’t work, but overall I think qualifying for us today wasn’t as smooth as it should have been.
“It was difficult to get a rhythm, difficult to get a feel for the car and in the end the gap is quite big. I’m not worried about the gap because I don’t think that shows how strong we are. Just disappointing obviously today that we didn’t get the maximum out of our package.”