Sebastian Vettel believes that Ferrari is “a bit behind” its rivals at Silverstone after qualifying sixth for the British Grand Prix on Saturday.
As Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locked out the front row of the grid in Q3, Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel could only finish fifth and sixth respectively, falling behind both Red Bulls.
Vettel had a ragged final run in Q3, leaving him over two seconds off Hamilton’s pole time, and will start 11th on Sunday after taking a gearbox penalty earlier in the day.
“I’m not happy with my lap, the car was better than this morning,” Vettel said.
“I was in a very good lap but I lost the car at Stowe in the first run, trying a bit too hard, then in the second one I went wide in Turn 1 and lost the car from there.
“On this track it seems we are a bit behind. I think we have done good steps in the past, but probably not enough, also compared to other people, so I think there’s a lot of catching up for us to do.
“We need to make the car quicker, to put more downforce in it, make it more efficient at the same time, and add a bit of power.”
Vettel made no secret of his annoyance after taking a second gearbox penalty in the space of a week, but is confident that he has the pace to fight his way back up the order.
“Replacing the gearbox is something we have to accept, and we did accept it going into the session,” Vettel said.
“It’s not something that is in your head when you start a race, I look forward for a good one tomorrow, the pace is there, we don’t belong where we start the race, and that’s why I’m quite sure we can make good progress.
“I hope for a good start, a good first lap and then we’ll see. Maybe we’ll have some rain, anyway we need to keep our head down, keep calm and just go racing and enjoy.”
Raikkonen was fortunate to qualify as high as fifth after an error-strewn Q2 that almost left him outside of the top 10 for the start at Silverstone.
“Fifth and sixth is not what we want, we are not happy with where we finished today, but this is the best we could achieve,” Raikkonen said.
“We know our limits on this track and where we struggle, the circuit layout and the conditions don’t make it very easy for us and we are a bit stuck with the things we can do.
“This afternoon the car felt the best it has been in the whole weekend, but obviously we were not fast enough.
“In Q2 I made it very difficult for myself, I spun at the start of my run with the first new set, and then locked the front wheel on the next one. At my last attempt I was able to make it through to Q3, but these things shouldn’t happen.
“Race conditions are always different and can change a lot here, usually we are stronger in the race and hopefully tomorrow will be the same. We’ll try to make a good start, make the tires work and take the right decisions.”
The British Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 7:30am ET on Sunday.