Sebastian Vettel says he knew already on his out-lap Aston Martin’s gamble to put on slick tyres late in Q2 at the Singapore Grand Prix was the “wrong decision”.
Although the rain had abated in the build-up to qualifying, the drivers took to the Marina Bay circuit on intermediate tyres for the start of qualifying as there were still a lot of wet patches.
With the track drying out with each passing minute, Aston Martin made it into Q2 where they threw the dice as they sent Vettel and Lance Stroll out on the Pirelli reds for their final run.
Only Zhou Guanyu did the same, none of the three making it into the final pole position shoot-out.
“We were a bit too aggressive and went on dry tyres too early. The track wasn’t quite ready for that yet,” said Vettel, quoted by F1-Insider.
“It was close and could have paid off, but I knew right away on the out-lap it was the wrong decision. It was just too late by then.”
The four-time former World Champion will line up P13, elevated one place by George Russell’s pit lane start, on the track where he has won five times, the German the most successful driver ever at the Marina Bay circuit.
“We puzzled for a long time,” Vettel continued.
“The gut feeling said inters, but then others are already on dry [tyres] and we didn’t want to miss this move, especially since you don’t have much time to make a decision.
“In retrospect, I should have been stronger and insisted on inters.”
But at the end of the day, he concedes “we decided it together”.
His attempts to get into Q3 on slicks were not helped by a mistake on what was his final hot lap.
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“I made a mistake and misbraked,” he explained.
“I knew I would lose a lot of time on the wet part of the track, so I pushed hard on the dry parts. I was a bit too aggressive on the brakes and the front tyres weren’t quite warm either.
“All in all, it was just a tad too early. Not much, but just the three to four laps it would have taken.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s 61-lap race, the Aston Martin driver admits it will not be easy working his way up into the top 10 as overtaking is tricky at the Marina Bay circuit.
“We are quite far behind, so of course it will be difficult because it’s not that easy here to overtake,” he said.
“Our race pace looked pretty good. Hopefully there will be a little more rain and preferably chaos as well.”
Vettel lines up on the grid P13 in the Drivers’ Championship with 20 points on the board, while Stroll is 18th with five.