- Belgian GP - Qualifying
Q2 gamble pays off for Vettel
Sebastian Vettel admitted he was happy to be best of the rest behind Mercedes in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix after a tyre gamble nearly saw him drop out of Q2.
Vettel decided to remain on a single set of intermediate tyres for the whole of the second session, while his rivals fitted on fresh rubber in the hope of finding extra time. As it turned out Vettel improved on his final lap anyway to secure safe passage into the final session, where he used the fresh intermediate rubber to beat Fernando Alonso and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to third on the grid with Mercedes two seconds clear in front.
"I think it would be nice to be further up but the gap is quite big, so this is the best we could do today," Vettel said. "It was a tricky qualifying, Q2 looked very tight for us - I stayed out on the same set of tyres, it started to rain heavier so I was confident the track wouldn't get quicker and I wanted to save an extra set for Q3. It was quite tight, I got the lap in in the end because the circuit did pick up and in Q3 I was able to use both sets of tyres.
"It was obviously very tight, at least behind the Mercedes. It was tricky out there with no downforce, especially through Eau Rouge, so I had a couple of moments but it was a good challenge and for sure I'm happy with third."
Red Bull opted for a low-downforce set-up at Spa, geared more towards the race than qualifying, and Vettel admits the rain made it even trickier, though he expects better on Sunday.
"It was very tricky in the wet, we knew it would be even trickier if qualifying was wet - and it was wet so I can confirm it was! The reasoning behind it is fairly simply; we know we are down on power and obviously Mercedes can run a lot more wing level and they have a very strong car this year, you have to admit, so they have a lot of downforce, but they can still take that on to the straights.
"If we do that I think we are similar in the corners but quite a long way off on the straights … that's the reasoning behind it and in the wet it probably hurt us a bit more but hopefully tomorrow we will be closer in terms of closer in terms of race pace than the last couple of races."