Sebastian Vettel is unhappy at the way Ferrari handled Q3 at the Italian Grand Prix after failing to complete a final lap with a slipstream, despite escaping penalty for an earlier incident.
The German had given Charles Leclerc a tow on the first runs in the final part of qualifying, with the plan for the drivers to switch positions for the final attempts. A red flag due to a crash for Kimi Raikkonen delayed proceedings and then when running resumed, a very slow out lap as drivers wanted to avoid being the lead car on track meant all except Carlos Sainz and Leclerc fail to cross the line in time.
“I thought internally we had a better way that we communicated this,” Vettel said. “I was the one out front alone in the first run and I shouldn’t have been the one in front in the second run. By the last corner I wasn’t but by that point I was too close anyway, plus the session was over so I couldn’t even make it to start the lap. So I can’t be happy with that, so not what we intended to do.
Asked if he was surprised how late Leclerc overtook him towards the end of the lap, Vettel replied: “That late? Probably yes, because there was no point.
“He should have been ahead all the way. But anyway, happy with the car, the qualifying was good, the car was very good. I had a very good lap, I just had no tow. So that’s the difference between pole and not pole today.”
Vettel says he wasn’t interested in any jostling for position early in the out lap, as he gestured to slower cars approaching Curva Grand.
“I was the one trying to indicate, ‘Get out of the way,’ because it was clear that I should be the one second in the second run getting a tow, because I was the first one in the first run. People were slowing down, Charles was slowing down and in the end I didn’t get across the line, nor did I have a good tow. So, not a good outcome.”
Vettel was under investigation for potentially leaving the track and gaining a lasting advantage during Q2, with the stewards analyzing whether all four wheels were outside of track limits on his one timed lap in the session.
After a hearing, the stewards said there were certain camera angles that suggested part of the right-front wheel may have been in contact with the white line on the edge of the track when viewed from above, adding: “This cast an element of doubt which is considered significant enough to give the ‘benefit of doubt’ to the driver in question.”