Sebastian Vettel had no explanation for the massive gap to Charles Leclerc in qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix other than to say his Ferrari teammate is performing on a different level.
While Leclerc qualified fourth for Ferrari, Vettel could only manage 15th on the grid for Sunday’s race. The four-time world champion has not advanced to the final qualifying session, which sets the top 10 places on the grid, since August’s British Grand Prix.
When asked the reason for the gap to Leclerc, Vettel said: “At the moment it’s beyond me. That’s not just beating, it’s like another class.
“I think the laps I make which I am content with are still too slow. At the moment, there is nothing more I can do than just getting everything out of myself and the car.”
Sebastian Vettel has not advanced to Q3 since the British Grand Prix. Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari to join Racing Point next season, said he has not felt comfortable with the car at any stage this week.
“Not happy at all. I struggle to just get things together,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to build a rhythm when it’s basically different every time round, which is normally tire temperature-related and seems to make a big difference this weekend so far. So we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
On the subject of Sunday’s grand prix, Vettel gave a bleak assessment of his chances, saying: “The problem is we are stuck in traffic tomorrow for the whole race, so it’s going to be the same as the last races.”
Leclerc backed his teammate to make amends on Sunday.
“We speak a little bit with Seb, and from what I understand, he’s probably not at ease as much as I am with the balance we have in the car,” Leclerc said. “The rear is moving quite a bit, and I just feel quite good in the car at the moment. But I’m sure that for tomorrow it will be a lot better for him.”