Sebastian Vettel feels he maximized the pace of his Ferrari during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix and admits he was surprised by the gap to Mercedes.
Ferrari has been a threat to Mercedes on a number of occasions in qualifying this year, with Vettel securing pole position five times so far, but he was over half a second adrift of pole winner Valtteri Bottas in Sochi. While the margin was unexpected, Vettel says Ferrari got the most out of its car on Saturday.
“It’s been a bit of a tricky one for us,” Vettel said. “We didn’t have the pace by quite a big gap, which is a surprise but it is like this and we will fight as much as we can tomorrow.
“To be honest, I was pretty happy. I think the car was pretty good. The balance was pretty good. I think it peaked in Q3 just the way it should so I think we got everything we could.
“I had a tiny bit of a mistake because I knew I had half a second to find, not just a couple of hundredths, so should have been two-tenths up on the last lap — but I was pretty happy with the car. It’s not like there’s a big issue with car balance. I think we reached our full potential today.”
Vettel does not believe there is a specific difference between Ferrari’s performance at the last race in Singapore and this weekend in Russia, having failed to qualify on the front row on either occasion.
“Singapore I think we were looking a bit more competitive until qualifying. Then, for various reasons, we didn’t get a very good session but I think also on Sunday it was true that we didn’t have enough pace. I don’t think anything has happened, to be honest,” he said.
“I think the races that we’ve seen so far have been quite close. I don’t think there was a race where we had really that superior pace in the race. I think it was always a match on Sunday, at best for us.
“On Saturday I think it’s been one way or the other — yesterday we didn’t get a very good feeling but I think today the car was really good and I was quite happy in qualifying. I didn’t have much to complain about but we’re still not quick enough, so I think it’s just what we saw today. Tomorrow is the race and that’s what we focus on now.”