Sebastian Vettel starts third in Canada but says he's still not back to his best
"I am still not where I want to be," World Champion admits
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 07/06/14 10:16pm
Having appeared rather anonymous during practice, Vettel pulled a strong lap out of the bag during the closing seconds of Q3 to line up 'best of the rest' behind Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
The fact he was 0.674s slower than Rosberg's pole time came as little surprise but the gaps were rather narrower behind the Silver Arrows, with just 0.041s separating Vettel, the fourth and fifth-placed Williams cars of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, and his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in sixth.
"I think it was very, very tight, you have to say that. Between third and sixth there wasn't much, so obviously I'm happy I got the last lap right and it was just good enough. It's good to start third, right behind the Mercedes," Vettel said afterwards.
"I think it was expected that it would be a tough battle for third - [it was] not yet clear yesterday, probably, what the contenders were on the list, with Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams."
The result means that Vettel has out-qualified newcomer Ricciardo just twice now in the opening seven races. It's no secret that the four-times champion has struggled to adapt to F1's new hybrid era and he still thinks he has more work to do.
"I think you always try to work on yourself. If you look at the record so far, I didn't have good races, so it's good to have a clean Friday and clean Saturday," he continued.
"Fingers crossed we'll have a good race tomorrow. But I'm always confident when I step in the car that it's good enough to make it, so we'll have to wait and see.
"But in terms of fighting with the car, I'm still not where I want to be; it's still not yet behaving in the way I'd probably prefer, but then again you still try to get the maximum out of the car.
"Last year, I was always stepping into a dream car and everything was smooth and perfect and I had to work very hard as well; this year, we're not yet ticking the right box probably."
Ricciardo, meanwhile, had to play second fiddle after a second flying lap in Q3 he described as "scrappy" - the Australian trying to make up for lost time but instead seeing even more ebb away.
"I was a bit frustrated. When you're less than half a tenth from three more positions up the grid then that's frustrating no matter what," he sighed.
"If you want something you can print, it was scrappy. I lost quite a chunk in the second sector. Basically, the supersoft's been a lot harder to turn on this year, particularly around here.
"We needed a quick 'out' lap but we had to let a couple of quick guys through and then there were couple of guys in front, so it wasn't a quick enough 'out' lap I think.
"I tried to fight the car a bit too much when the tyres and everything weren't there to be fought with. And that's why it was pretty scrappy."
Watch the Canadian GP live on Sky Sports F1, with coverage starting at 6pm on Sunday.