Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari’s improvement from Friday to Saturday stands it in good stead for the United States Grand Prix despite missing out on pole position.
After Friday practice, Vettel admitted he had struggled to make progress with his car during the first two practice sessions and had work to do overnight. That work paid off on Saturday as he ended up just 0.012s behind Valtteri Bottas and will start from the front row, something Vettel says bodes well for Sunday’s race.
“Obviously it was a very nice session,” Vettel said. “It was really fun to drive the car this afternoon, but if you are so close to pole but just on the wrong side of it, I guess Valtteri had a little bit more fun. It was OK, I don’t know the gap, it was very small, like one or two hundredths. That is always there.
“I had a very good first lap, and I had some margin in maybe the last sector where I was maybe taking it a little bit too conservative, making sure that I finished the lap and set the lap first, and then improved on the second lap. Unfortunately I didn’t improve, so my plan didn’t quite work, but overall it was good.
“I think we will have a strong race tomorrow. The car felt a lot better today than yesterday, which is obviously what we needed. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.
“Obviously we didn’t do longer runs in FP3, but overall I think the car felt better this morning. We changed quite a couple of things, which I think helped and will also help in the race. How the pace will be, obviously we will find out tomorrow, but at this stage I am quite content. I think we also struggled on the hard tires, but I think we should get them to work and that shouldn’t be an issue tomorrow.”
With bumps being a major talking point at Circuit of The Americas this weekend, Vettel says it should be less of an issue over a race distance.
“It’s a lot worse,” Vettel said. “I think the ground is the problem here, it moves for some reason. I don’t know what they installed under the track when they were laying the track, but I think they are aware, they tried everything. They brought some people out last night to grind some parts of the track again to try and make it better for us, but now there’s not so much you can do.
“We’ll see. It’s not going to change the world upside down tomorrow in the race. I think it’s more of an issue for qualifying where you’re pushing to the limit, and you go significantly faster. I guess tomorrow should be fine, but for sure it will be a bumpy race. I hope all three of us (the top three) do well tomorrow, but I think the last thing we need is somebody tapping our shoulders after all the tapping we get through the corners, around the tracks.”