Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel is happy with fourth on the grid for the Mexican Grand Prix, especially after seeing the gap to Red Bull close up on Saturday.
Red Bull continued its dominant form by locking out the front row, but Lewis Hamilton and Vettel closed the gap to within 0.3s in time for qualifying. Vettel had been second behind Max Verstappen after the initial attempts but was shuffled down to fourth when pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton improved at the end of Q3.
Vettel admitted he adopted an aggressive approach which did not pay off.
“I think it’s good,” Vettel said. “I was really happy with the lap.
“I knew that it would be difficult to try and match the Red Bulls so I had to try something different but it didn’t work so I don’t think I could’ve gone much faster. It was obviously a pity to drop back. I don’t know I think Daniel had an error because obviously he improved quite a lot after his first run.”
When asked what specifically went wrong on his key Q3 runs, he said: “Well I tried to be a little bit more aggressive out of turn three and lost the rear but that didn’t cost too much time. But then mostly in the high speed section I think we lose quite a lot in the last sector so we tried to just find something extra but again lost the rear. In the end it was not dramatic, the lap was a tenth down compared to the lap before, but enough not to improve.”
Vettel says the high-altitude Mexico City circuit and the thin air which negates the power deficit of the Renault power unit inside the Red Bull cars has changed the usual balance of power.
“I think it’s the aero. I think we are quite fast on the straight, but I think mostly because we have less downforce than the others. Therefore we are faster on the straights but slower in the corners.
“This is probably not the track where efficiency counts so much so you need all the downforce you can get. I think it was expected that Red Bull was quick also with the huge turbo that the Renault engine has, they lose less power up here so…”