After a mini-renaissance of form at the last Grand Prix race in Turkey, it was a something of a return to doom and gloom for Ferrari on Saturday with both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc failing to make it through to the final round of qualifying in Bahrain.
Vettel missed out on progressing to Q3 by over a tenth of a second and will line up for tomorrow’s race in 11th, one place ahead of his team mate.
Afterwards he explained that the team had been planning on him getting a ‘tow’ from Leclerc down the long straight – but that it had all gone wrong.
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“The plan was obviously to have a bit of a slipstream in the last run because I was always losing time in the runs before down the straight,” Vettel told the media.
Vettel did manage to leave pit lane right behind his team mate, but Leclerc then overtook George Russell’s Williams before the start of the push lap.
“It didn’t work because Russell was in the middle with a scrubbed soft,” Vettel confirmed. “I don’t know what he wanted to do, maybe hoping for a miracle.
“[Russell] stopped me getting a tow from Charles, and then I didn’t manage to have a perfect second sector,” he said. “Then we were a bit close, maybe sector two, sector three. It was tough because you only had one lap.
“That just adds to the disappointment,” he noted. “Even if we expected to be in the midfield here, we could just as easily have been in the top ten rather than on the sixth row.
“All the same, I am confident that the team can still bring home a good amount of points tomorrow,” he asserted. “The race will be mainly about tyre management and I think that we can do something good on that score.
“We will have to be as sly as a fox, be patient and make no mistakes.”
Leclerc was also frustrated to miss out on the final pole shoot-out round. It’s one of the few occasions this season he’s been out-qualified by Vettel, and he admitted that it hadn’t been a good weekend for him so far.
“A bit disappointed obviously,” he said. “It’s been a difficult weekend on my side, I’ve been struggling with the car since FP1 and it didn’t really get any better.
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“Maybe a little bit Q1, then Q2 with the medium I struggled a bit again. I haven’t been driving very cleanly this weekend, but I’ll try to sort everything out for tomorrow.”
Leclerc added that he was hopeful that Ferrari could find a way to use strategy to their advantage in the race, as they will be the top two cars on the grid to have a free choice in starting tyre compound.
“I don’t know how different we will be able to do compared to the others in terms of strategy, but we at least have the freedom to think of something else,” he said.
“We are close to top ten compared to yesterday. That is a good step forward. But yeah, I can’t hide that I’m a bit disappointed in not being in this top ten.”
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