Sebastian Vettel was left ruing a mistake on his final hot lap in Formula 1 qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix after missing out on pole position by just 0.038 seconds.
Vettel looked poised to claim a record-equalling third Interlagos pole after leading after the opening runs in Q3, only to fail to improve on his second and final run.
This allowed Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas to snatch pole position away by a slender margin, leaving Vettel to settle for P2 on the grid in Brazil.
“I was quite happy with the first lap,” Vettel said. “I knew that in the last corner in that first Q3 run I had a little bit left because I lost the rear a bit. So I wanted to get there, and hopefully gain some time.
“But I chickened out a little bit too early in the first corner, braking too early. The grip was there so I lost some time compared to the first run and then I managed to stay there.
“I got what I thought I got back in the last corner but it wasn’t enough to come back.”
Despite being disappointed to miss out on pole, Vettel felt Ferrari had made significant progress after struggling through practice, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen set to line up third on Sunday.
“Not ideal, but overall I think a very positive day for us, both of us, I believe, looking at the gaps yesterday and today, so fair enough,” Vettel said.