Sebastian Vettel does not think Lewis Hamilton’s pole position laptime for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix was unbeatable, despite ending up 0.6s adrift.
The Ferrari driver headed into qualifying as the favourite to claim pole, with Mercedes anticipating a tricky weekend around a circuit the reigning world champions’ struggled for one lap pace at last year.
But Hamilton pulled off a sublime 1m36.015s on his opening run in Q3 to take a surprise pole, over 0.3s clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Vettel, who could only manage third on the grid after failing to improve on his final effort.
“I think the gap is quite big – I think Lewis had a really good lap, so congrats to him for the lap, I’m sure it was a good one but I don’t think it was unbeatable,” Vettel insisted. For us today, the way we composed qualifying, I think it was difficult to get a rhythm.
It didn’t go the way we planned. I was struggling in Q1, Q2 and Q3. I think other people did a better job – that’s including Lewis’s lap as an individual but also them as a team. Obviously it’s not what we wanted today, to get third.”
Vettel believes it is “clear” Ferrari could have done much better in qualifying, given the pace the Italian squad had shown throughout practice in the build-up to qualifying, leaving him ruing a missed opportunity.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Lewis’s lap and their efforts as a team; they did great, which is why they’re on pole by quite a margin – that is not for debate,” he explained.
I think for us it’s clear that we could’ve done better, and therefore we can’t be happy. For sure here and there we could’ve done better, maybe with preparing the lap, the qualifying. But in the end I had the laps and obviously they were not strong enough and good enough to be near.”
Raikkonen says issues with getting his tyres into the right window on his out laps due to traffic was to blame for his poor qualifying in Singapore.
“I think it was trickier than we expected but then this is what can often happen between qualifying and practice,” Raikkonen said. “It is always different. That is why it is pointless to look at lap times in practice. A lot of things change quickly especially at this place.
“I don’t think we really had traffic on the fast laps but obviously we did on the out laps. I think it was more difficult to make the tyres work but it was pretty straightforward since the start of the weekend. Now it was different and was a big surprise.”
Despite his underwhelming qualifying position, Raikkkonen remains optimistic with the favoured Ferrari package in race trim and feels the uncertainty the Singapore Grand Prix can produce gives him opportunities in tomorrow’s race.