Sebastian Vettel believes he could have matched Max Verstappen’s lap time in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix, but says “it was clear you have to lift” for the crash involving Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas crashed at the final corner to bring out yellow flags at the end of Q3, with a number of frontrunners still to complete their laps. Max Verstappen set the fastest final sector on his way to pole position and later admitted he did not lift for the yellow flags that were out for Bottas, something Vettel says was clear to him as he went nearly a second slower than Verstappen in the final sector.
“I’m not the police so don’t ask me,” Vettel said. “It was clear it was a double yellow, people were on the track, it was clear you have to lift.
“I think we could have matched Max’s time, but would, could, should.”
Verstappen has since been summoned to the stewards regarding his final lap, but focusing on his own performance, Vettel says he only has himself to blame for a poor first run that left him third on the grid behind Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
“It’s not ideal with the yellow flag otherwise I think it could have been a better session for myself,” Vettel admitted. “I had it in my hands in the first run. I was probably too cautious after a good first sector, then I lost the rhythm, and I was too aggressive in the end, had a big snap in the first corner. I was quite confident I could make up some time. There was a yellow flag, but it happens.”
After predicting a three-team fight for qualifying on Friday, Vettel says he is expecting more of the same in Sunday’s race as he’s set to start alongside Lewis Hamilton on the second row.
“The key tomorrow will be to have a good race car to look after the tires, to choose the right strategy,” he said. “We all start on the same tire, but I think it will be a close race. Mercedes – I don’t know what happened to them today, but tomorrow they will be quick.”