Belgian F1 GP: Sebastian Vettel admits 'costly' qualifying mistake

Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel was left kicking himself for "a costly mistake" that compromised his lap and left him ninth in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix

Belgian F1 GP: Sebastian Vettel admits 'costly' qualifying mistake

While Mercedes was in a class of its own at Spa-Francorchamps, third place on the grid was closely contested.

Come the conclusion, just 0.288 seconds separated third place to ninth, but Vettel had to settle for the last of those positions courtesy of an error late on in his final hot lap in Q3.

After winning last time out in Hungary, Vettel now faces a tall order to put Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton under any further pressure in the title battle, with the gap between the duo at 42 points.

"The last race doesn't matter now, but it's always disappointing [to finish so far down in qualifying] when you consider I had a good feeling throughout," said Vettel.

"Probably the worst lap, or the worst part [of qualifying] for us was the last one.

"We only had one set of [soft] tyres due to the red flag earlier [caused by team-mate Kimi Raikkonen's failure in Q2], but still, I was fine until the last corner where I lost too much time.

"I went in a bit too deep, had a very poor exit and lost quite a lot of time, two tenths, not enough to go P3, but enough to be higher than P9.

"It was a costly mistake and I'm not happy with myself because it was very tight from P3 onwards. We were at the right end of it in Q2, but at the wrong end in Q3."

Vettel, though, firmly believes he can make up positions in the race.

"We have made impressive progress on our side," he said.

"Our straightline speed is good, and that makes me fairly confident for the race as this is a place where you can overtake.

"I feel we're quicker than the cars in front, so we'll see how it pans out. Surely the target for both of us is to make progress."

RAIKKONEN HOPEFUL OF RACE PROGRESS

Raikkonen will start 14th after losing drive from his Ferrari early in Q2, forcing him to park his car on the side of the track shortly before Stavelot.

With Ferrari still investigating exactly what happened, Raikkonen said: "We lost drive and obviously I had to stop. I'm sure we'll find out exactly the problem."

The Finn knows he faces a fight to make up places with eight Mercedes-powered cars among those ahead of him, but is confident race pace can prove beneficial.

"All the Mercedes engined-cars are there and they seem to be pretty strong here, but our car's been handling nicely all weekend

"We've been good in the top speed, and obviously race pace is something we hope is going to change in the race, in our favour."

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Belgian GP: F1 qualifying press conference transcript

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