Sebastian Vettel shares blame for Ferrari qualifying mistake in Japan

F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Qualifying

It's been a tough start to the weekend in Japan for Ferrari after Sebastian Vettel had to settle for a low P9 in qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The German is currently 50 points behind his championship rival Lewis Hamilton, who leads the driver standings with 306 points.

This weekend, the championship came to Japan and there was drama from the go, with the likes of Nico Hulkenberg crashing out in FP3 and Daniel Ricciardo failing to make it to Q3 for the fifth time in seven races after yet another engine failure.

However, the most noticeable error came from the Ferrari garage in Suzaka.

Heading into the Japanese GP, it was no secret that Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel would need to push himself and the car to the limit to close the gap on Hamilton.

Both Vettel and teammate Kimi Räikkönen made it to the final stage of qualifying on Saturday morning, however with the chance of rain set to hit the circuit before the end of the Q3 Ferrari made the call to send both red arrows out onto the dry track with a set of intermediates.

But at that stage, the track was still relatively dry and it meant that both drivers had to make their way back to the pits and swap for slicks, resulting in the pair being out of sync in the battle for pole position.

This then became a bigger issue after a mistake by Vettel on his first hot lap of the session when the rain did eventually reach the track.

F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Qualifying

In the end, Vettel could only muster a time good enough for 9th, but will actually line up on the grid in 8th following Esteban Ocon's subsequent penalty.

Despite a disappointing result and the poor tyre strategy, Vettel was reluctant to pin all of the blame on those in the garage.

“It does not matter who makes the choice of the tyres, we made the choice all together,” Vettel said, per Planet F1.

“It was a wrong choice. But at that time making laps with the intermediates seemed a risk to be taken. Had the rain arrived before, we would have been the heroes.

“These things happen.

F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Qualifying

“I agreed. It was shared. Then we saw it was the wrong choice.”

However, Vettel is reassured that P9 isn't a true reflection on Ferrari's ability and how the team had made improvements from Friday's practice sessions, despite the early mistake.

“It’s not the position we deserve to be in. We have more speed than ninth but we start there and see how it goes,” he said.

“It was not our day. I had a snap in Spoon which didn’t help but not our qualifying. I think the first run was OK.

F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Final Practice

“But I had a mistake so lost most of the time there but the second run we obviously didn’t make it out on time because the rain came.

The German added: “I think we made a step from yesterday but obviously we weren’t able to show it.

“Tomorrow is a new day, it won’t be easy when you start further back but it’s not impossible.”

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