Vettel plays down Webber incident
Sebastian Vettel has played down being held up by team-mate Mark Webber in Hockenheim qualifying despite venting his frustration over team radio.
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 21/07/12 5:22pm
Sebastian Vettel has played down being held up by Mark Webber during the battle for pole in the closing minutes of qualifying at Hockenheim despite being overheard on the team radio expressing his frustration with his Red Bull team-mate.
The fight for pole position in the very wet Q3 conditions in Germany distilled into a three-way fight between Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Webber with the former two trading fastest times in the closing three minutes.
Vettel briefly went fastest on a 1:42.342 with just over two minutes on the clock despite having to follow Webber - on a lap which turned out to be over three seconds off the pace - through the final two corners of the lap. Replays then showed the World Champion gesticulating with his arm as he continued to follow the sister car down the main straight.
Having as a result been forced to back off on the following lap to get some clear air ahead of his final attempt while Alonso vaulted ahead of him on a 1:40.904, Vettel was then on a lap which threatened to usurp the Spaniard but ultimately could only manage a 1:41.026 - while the Ferrari improved still further by three-tenths of a second to firmly settle the duel.
Speaking in the post-qualifying press conference having nonetheless secured the second front-row berth for his home GP, Vettel said that, while the incident with Webber had in effect cost him two clean laps, mistakes on his final run had ultimately cost him pole position.
"I lost a lap obviously running into him but it's difficult in these conditions, you can see nothing in the mirror. He probably he didn't see me," the World Champion accepted.
"Then two laps to the chequered flag, or two laps to start and finish line, you can't back up enough to let people go and get your lap again. So for sure that lost a little bit, the track was best at the end, so it was the last lap which was not entirely clean.
"It was tricky. Nevertheless I think we had the pace today to put the car on pole in the end. I think the lap time was possible."
Sebastian later added in the press conference with the written media: "If you keep catching someone up, even if he's still three, four, five seconds down the road you go on the straight, the spray comes up, you see nothing, you don't see the rivers and all of a sudden the car is sidewards, seventh gear, 200kph and it's a surprise. So it's on the limit but obviously you know you have to do your best under these conditions and everyone is pushing as well."
Although he appeared calm about the Webber incident in the press conferences, Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz revealed in his Saturday Notebook that Vettel had been particularly animated about being held up by the Australian over Red Bull's team radio.
"He was furious on the radio, Vettel, with his team-mate Mark Webber for holding him up on his penultimate try at the end of Q3," reported Ted.
"But eventually Webber got out the way, they both found some space and Vettel finished his lap to finish second on the grid."
Nonetheless, although not able to claim pole for his home GP, Vettel said he is feeling optimistic of a competitive race - although doesn't necessary expect Sunday, and indeed the season, to come down to a straight Red Bull versus Ferrari duel.
"I don't think so," he said. "There is also other teams you still need to be aware of, there's still a long way to go, and there's no big difference in points so far.
"I don't think you can rule out McLaren. They've been extremely quick in qualifying [practice] all weekend but in the last qualifying on the extremes I don't know what went wrong but they were quite a bit far behind.
"They'll be extremely quick tomorrow. I think Lotus have been extremely quick in the last couple of races, so it's extremely close I would say."
Webber, meanwhile, ended up third but will drop to eighth on the grid owing to an out-of-sequence gearbox change overnight.
The Australian, currently second in the championship to Alonso, is optimistic he will be able to finish in a higher position at the chequered flag on Sunday.
"We've got to aim to come forward - that's what we've got to do," Webber said.
"It's not the best position to start from, that's clear. To start eighth is not ideal. But we have to aim to come forward and let's see what happens at the front, see how the race goes.
"We've had very limited running in the dry. We've had snapshots for the team to get some information but I'm positive going into the race and to try and pick some people off throughout the course of the Grand Prix."