Japanese Grand Prix – Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari were expecting earlier rainfall in closing stages of the qualifying hour.
With on and off rain affecting qualifying – and the end of Q2 being increasingly affected by rain – Ferrari were the only team to use the intermediate tyres at the start of Q3.
This immediately turned out to be the wrong decision, and both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen returned to the pits for supersoft tyres after one lap. By this point, the remaining drivers were already on their flying laps.
The qualifying tyres were the correct ones to be on, but mistakes from both Ferrari drivers meant Raikkonen and Vettel could only set times good enough for fourth and ninth respectively.
With the rain intensifying once again, no faster times were possible, and conditions went more towards the intermediate tyres in the final few minutes of Q3.
Speaking after qualifying, Vettel – who has since been promoted to eighth following Esteban Ocon’s three-place grid penalty – said that Ferrari were anticipating the rain to arrive sooner.
“At the beginning of Q3, I was asked if it was ok for me to go out on inters and I said yes. Obviously, it was the wrong decision and now it’s easy to say, but it could have been the other way around,” said Vettel.
“We thought there could have been more rain, but in the end it didn’t come. If it had rained five minutes before, it would have been a different story. However, it wasn’t our session in terms of timing and we’ve been through similar situations a couple of time so far.
“We are a team, so now we accept together the consequences. Tomorrow is another day, it won’t be easy as we start from the back, but it’s not impossible”.