Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday acted as something of a missed opportunity for Scuderia Ferrari as it failed to capitalize on two mistakes made by Mercedes at the front of the field.
Lewis Hamilton headed up a front-row lock-out for Mercedes in qualifying, beating teammate Nico Rosberg by two-tenths of a second to claim the 45th pole position of his career.
However, neither driver managed to improve with their final lap times after both pushed too hard and spun off the circuit.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was unable to capitalize on their errors, though, finishing 0.355 seconds behind Hamilton for third place on the grid after his final flying lap.
“Once again I thought we could have a bit of a word, but unfortunately they were a bit too quick,” Vettel said when asked about challenging Mercedes.
“We tried everything. I think it looked good throughout practice and preparing in qualifying, obviously Q1 was quite tough for everyone. We got into the groove nicely, last part of qualifying then, yeah, I guess generally Mercedes-powered cars seem to able to turn up the performance quite a bit.
“If you look at those two guys and the Williams, they were a lot closer than they were in practice. So there’s some work for us to do.
“Overall, happy with third, but as I said, we’d love to be a bit closer. I was happy with the car, thanks to the team, I think we should have a good car in the race.”
Mercedes suffered a similar fate last year in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, allowing Williams’ Felipe Massa to pounce and score his first pole position since 2008. However, this time around, Ferrari simply wasn’t close enough to make the most of Hamilton and Rosberg’s errors.
To make matters worse for Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen dropped out in Q1 after failing to make the most of the increasing grip on the drying circuit.
The Finn posted a fastest lap time of 1:12.867, but was surprised to learn of his demise, asking his engineer: “How the f*** is that possible?”
The Austrian Grand Prix is live from 7:30am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra this Sunday.