'We deserved better' says Vettel after Q3 stumble

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF71H on intermediate Pirelli tyres in qualifying.
© XPB 

Sebastian Vettel was clearly feeling hard done by after slumping to ninth place on the grid for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver had been in contention during the first two rounds of qualifying, finishing in the top three in both Q1 and Q2. But the wheels came off his session when it came to the final round pole shoot-out.

Vettel and his team mate Kimi Raikkonen both headed out on intermediate tyres in response to a track still damp from a brief rain shower. Their Mercedes rivals were more aggressive and went out on slick tyres.

With the rain having already stopped, it was soon clear that the track wasn't wet enough to justify Ferrari's strategy and both drivers had to pit for supersofts before embarking upon their flying laps, just as the conditions started to worsen again.

“It does not matter who makes the choice of the tyres, we made the choice all together,” Vettel told reporters when asked who was to blame for the team's miscall.

“I agreed. It was shared. Then we saw it was the wrong choice," he continued. "These things happen.

"At that time making laps with the intermediates seemed a risk to be taken. Had the rain arrived before, we would have been the heroes."

When they did make their qualifying runs, both Vettel and Raikkonen suffered a scare on their laps around the long left-hander at the Spoon curve when a damp patch threw them off line.

It was enough to drop Raikkonen down to fourth, but the consequences were even worse for Vettel who will start tomorrow's race from a lowly ninth, his worst starting position of the season.

"I think the first run was sort of okay," he said. "Obviously I had a mistake in Spoon so lost most of the time there."

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF71H.

With the rain increasing, he didn't get a second chance to salvage the situation.

"Obviously the second run we didn't make it out on time the because the rain came so we were too late," he sighed.

"It's not the position we deserved to be in," he insisted. " I think we have better speed than ninth. But we start there and then we'll see how it goes.

Taking no pleasure on a rival team's plight, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described Vettel's situation as "a pretty grim starting position for him."

Wolff added: "He has a fast car, but obviously fighting against Lewis if everything runs well for us then it's going to be difficult off the start."

But Vettel himself was more positive about what he could achieve in race trim on Sunday.

"I think anything can happen tomorrow. Tomorrow's a new day - obviously it's not easy when you start further back, but it's not impossible."

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