MELBOURNE, March 15th, 2014 (F1Plus / Jacob Polychronis) Sebastian Vettel has spectacularly failed to qualify in the top ten for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix during a rain affected session.
The reigning four-time world champion was eliminated in Q2 with a time of 1.44.668, eight-tenths shy of the final qualification period. Vettel qualified 13th but will start 12th on the grid as a result of a grid penalty for Valtteri Bottas. The result currently has the German feeling baffled.
“At this stage we don’t have an explanation. We definitely know something went wrong, we are looking into that at the moment.
“This afternoon, once it started to rain in particular, we were struggling a lot with driveability. It made my life really difficult in the conditions.”
Vettel refused to blame yellow flag conditions, as a subsequence of a Kimi Raikkonen crash, which inhibited his final lap.
“I had the yellow flag on the last lap but I’m not a big fan of blaming that because there were other cars behind that which had yellow flags as well.
“Equally, Kimi didn’t drop it on purpose because he didn’t make it [into Q3] either.”
Compounding the woe for Vettel was being heavily upstaged his new team-mate and home-town hero, Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian recorded his first career front-row qualification – a position on the grid where Vettel might have expected to be.
“There wasn’t supposed to be a difference between both cars.
“Obviously we tried to run the best we have for both cars but for some reason today it wasn’t so happy on my side. Fortunately it worked for him, so at least we have one car where it belongs.”
Nonetheless, Vettel managed to see the positive side in being out-qualified by Ricciardo in the first round of their partnership.
“Yeah, definitely [Ricciardo’s pace makes me optimistic]. That was the main relief yesterday, the fact that the car is performing.
“We have a quick car, we just need to make it robust and reliable.
“It’s a long year, it’s a long race tomorrow. We don’t know what the conditions will be tomorrow, so we will see but I think [there will be] plenty of opportunities in the race.”
There currently stands a 50 per cent chance of light rain for the race tomorrow according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The 2014 season opens tomorrow with the Australian Grand Prix commencing at 1700 AEDT.