Vettel: Third the best Red Bull could achieve today

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Sebastian Vettel believes that qualifying in third place for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix was the best that he could do during today’s session at Spa-Francorchamps.

The defending F1 world champion will start behind the two Mercedes drivers for the race tomorrow after running well in the wet conditions, but he does not feel that he could have made up the two second gap to pole sitter Nico Rosberg.

“Well I think it would be nice to be further up, but obviously the gap is quite big, so I think it was the best we could do today,” Vettel conceded. “It was a tricky qualifying, especially Q2 looked very tight for us, so trying to stay out on the same set of tires, it started to rain heavier.

“I was quite confident that the track would get quicker and I wanted to save that extra set for Q3, so it was quite tight. I got the lap in the end because the circuit did pick up, and in Q3 I was able to use an old set of tires. It was obviously very tight behind the Mercedes.

“It was tricky out there, especially through Eau Rouge, so I had a couple of moments, but it was a good challenge and, for sure, happy with third.”

Vettel will line up ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and will be hoping to cut the gap to both drivers in the championship with a good result in the race tomorrow. However, it would seem that his aspirations of a first win of the season at Spa may be a little unrealistic given Mercedes’ dominant pace in both dry and wet conditions.

Chief technical officer Adrian Newey did say yesterday that this weekend is about “damage limitation” for Red Bull, but with its cars third and fifth on the grid, a good haul of points may not be so improbable.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”