Vettel was provisionally due to start on the front row with pole-sitter Charles Leclerc until Lewis Hamilton dislodged him with his final Q3 lap which was quicker by a mere 0.023s.
Although Vettel has now been relegated to the second row, Gene thinks that could be the perfect spot for Vettel to potentially have the lead at Turn 1.
“Starting third is nearly like starting in pole [for Vettel],” Gene said in Sky Sport Italy’s coverage of qualifying in Russia.
“He can use Charles as a tow and can also think of passing Hamilton at the first turn. Let’s not forget that Mercedes are starting on the harder tyre so they will struggle.
“But both Ferrari drivers have to push hard because they have softer tyre and have to get a big gap away from Hamilton.”
Vettel also said there is a possibility of having an advantage of starting P3, but he is still not with his own performance after being out-qualified yet again by Leclerc.
“First you need a good start, then you worry about the rest. There is potentially an advantage if you’re in behind,” Vettel said in Sochi.
“But obviously I’m not entirely happy,” he added.
“I think I could’ve extracted the absolute maximum from the car. It was a disruptive Q1 but when we got to Q3 it was okay.
“The race will be decided tomorrow. The speed is there, so let’s keep it up.”
Vettel was also quizzed on being outperformed by Leclerc in qualifying but said he cannot see any particular trend as to why it keeps happening.
“I don’t think there’s any pattern standing out saying that he’s always faster in the same type of corners,” he said.
“As I said, obviously the last couple of races was closer than maybe it looked on the result, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
“Usually come race day I’m getting more and more confident in the car, and pace has never been a problem in the race.”
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