Sebastian Vettel says his 11th place in qualifying was a fair reflection of Ferrari’s pace at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Ferrari warned it would be uncompetitive at the opening rounds, having struggled with its car during pre-season testing, during which the team changied aerodynamic direction but did not have new parts ready for the first race. An upgrade is due in Hungary, and after Vettel was eliminated in Q2 at the Red Bull Ring, he admitted that is just the performance level of the car at the moment.
“It was quite tight and it just seems that maybe we didn’t have as much in hand as other people,” Vettel said. “I think today is where we are — we’ll see where we are tomorrow and then we’ll see where we are next week with the same conditions or the same track at least.
“I think in race pace we should be more competitive; probably P11 is not a bad place to be if you are anyway fighting somewhere around P10, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Teammate Charles Leclerc qualified seventh quickest, and Vettel says there is no one obvious weakness for Ferrari, as he can feel the potential for a stable car that is simply lacking outright pace compared to its rivals.
“I think our car is not quick enough. The car doesn’t feel awful but in terms of balance, this afternoon for me it was slipping away a little bit. Generally it’s not too bad but obviously other people are faster. We’re losing quite a bit on the straights — it seems that on this track that our car might be a bit too draggy. In some corners we are very quick and competitive, but overall it’s a very fast track.”
Vettel suggested the team might opt to take some strategic changes to boost his prospects in the race.
“Lots for us to improve but we’ll see what we can do,” he said. “Maybe starting 11th is not bad as I can choose the tire, so it’s a new sort of area to start from but I think we will get used to it and make the best out of it.
“Tomorrow’s going to be very hot — all the cars ahead, with the exception of (Max) Verstappen, will be starting on softs, so maybe we will do something different.”