AUSTIN – Sebastian Vettel has said that finishing anywhere inside the top seven in tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix would be a good result as he will start from the pit lane due to a complete power unit change.
Red Bull confirmed earlier this week that it would be overhauling Vettel’s engine, prompting the FIA stewards in Austin to hand him a pit lane start regardless of his qualifying position.
Although Vettel was not expected to run in qualifying, the team sent him out to ensure that he finished inside the 107% time required to qualify for a grand prix. He finished the session in 17th place, marking his first Q1 exit in over five years.
However, with a good long-run pace on show in practice on Friday, the German driver could yet fight his way up into the points.
“It’s difficult to say where we are compared to the others teams,” Vettel said after qualifying. “It doesn’t seem too bad, depending on the conditions which are currently good.
“In the race tomorrow I think we can move up, our race pace seems okay, but it will be tight. It will be difficult to overtake, as we don’t have the ideal straight line speed, hopefully we can get some points tomorrow. Seventh would be a good result.”
His teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, finished qualifying in fifth place behind the Mercedes and Williams drivers, and looks set to be mathematically ruled out of the drivers’ championship following this weekend’s race in the United States in light of Mercedes expected dominance.
“I’m pretty happy with the top five,” Ricciardo said after qualifying. “Realistically we’re fighting for the last spot on the podium, if Mercedes have a clean race, and we’ve put ourselves in a good position for that.
“We were close to Felipe [Massa], but hopefully the clean side of the grid will help me out a bit, so we’ll see what happens.