Sebastian Vettel knew that his first run in the top 10 shoot-out would be “hard to beat” and it proved to be just that. The German aborted his final run after it became clear that his top time would remain unchallenged.
Vettel took his 42nd career pole position and sixth of the season on Saturday afternoon. He said in a team statement: “It was close today. I had a very good lap in Q3 on my first attempt and thought I would find it hard to do better. On my second attempt I caught Kimi on the warm up lap and didn’t have time to drop back, but fortunately the first lap was good enough. Mercedes were strong and seem to be comfortable in the middle sector.”
However the triple world champion admits that his speed in the first sector is surprising: “We’re good in Sector one this year which a surprise as that’s mostly straights. We improved the car from yesterday as I wasn’t entirely happy with it after the second practice. In terms of conditions, we should be okay if it’s dry or wet tomorrow; it’s not clear if we get some rain from the typhoon, but let’s see what happens.”
Team-mate Mark Webber finished the session in third place but will drop back 10 places on the grid thanks to a penalty issued for earning three reprimands this season.
The Aussie said that the team compromised some speed in qualifying for better straight line speed in the race, losing him some time during his lap in Q3: “We had to take a bit of pace out of the car for qualifying, not much, but it was about how we would compromise between qualifying and the race tomorrow. I’m pretty happy, I could be two positions further up but that would mean, with the penalty, I would be 11th rather than 13th. It was a pretty tight qualifying with the two Mercedes, Seb and myself.”
Looking ahead to the race he added: “Tomorrow’s race will be interesting, I will be out of position, but we’ll fight and come back through. I think we improved the car in some areas from yesterday.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic