Sebastian Vettel describes Charles Leclerc as being in “another league” as his own struggles continued in qualifying at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Saturday saw Vettel fail to reach Q3 for the eighth consecutive race, with a Q1 exit also coming in that run, while Leclerc secured a second straight top-four start. Not only has Leclerc’s qualifying pace been extremely impressive, he’s also converted that into 18 points in the past three rounds, while Vettel has scored just one point in five races — and 17 in total this season — as he has struggled to match his teammate’s level.
“At the moment it’s beyond me,” Vettel said. “It’s not just beating, it’s like another league. Well, yeah, I try everything I can. I think the laps I make, which I am content with, are still too slow. At the moment there is nothing more I can do, other than just getting everything out of myself and the car.”
Vettel tried to advance from Q2 on the medium tire, doing two runs on that compound and failing to match his lap time from Q1, but he says choosing between that and the softs wasn’t a straightforward choice at the time.
“It’s always easier now but I was quite happy to go on the medium because they felt good, but I struggled to get the tires to work and then that was that,” he said. “Not happy (with the car) at all. I struggle to just get things together. It’s very difficult to build a rhythm when it’s basically different every time ’round, which is normally tire temperature related and seems to make a big difference this weekend so far. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Leclerc said he’s discussed Vettel’s struggles with his teammate and thinks the difference comes down to comfort level.
“From what I understand, he’s probably not at ease as much as I am with the balance we have in the car — the rear is moving quite a bit and I just feel quite good in the car at the moment,” he said. “But I’m sure that for tomorrow it will be a lot better than him.”