MONZA, Italy — Sebastian Vettel was left frustrated after claiming Ferrari’s slipstream tactics failed to play out as planned during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.
Vettel qualified fourth, 0.150 seconds off teammate Charles Leclerc on pole position, but ran out of time before his final attempt at the end of the session and did not get an opportunity to improve. His first attempt was set without a slipstream — a key performance differentiator worth as much as 0.4s on Monza’s long straights — but in doing so allowed Leclerc, behind him on track, to have a slipstream for the lap that ultimately claimed pole position.
Ferrari planned to switch the roles on the second run in Q3, but along with six other cars, a chaotic outlap meant Vettel failed to make it across the line in time to start a lap. Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz were largely to blame for the slow outlap as they blocked the road coming out of the first chicane (both drivers are under investigation), but at that point Leclerc also dropped behind Vettel and only went back ahead on the run to Parabolica at the end of the lap.
Vettel said he was not happy with the situation, as Leclerc’s positioning on the messy outlap at the end of Q3 meant he did not start the lap before the flag came out and also meant he would not have had a good slipstream even if he had.
“I thought we had spoken about it,” Vettel said. “I definitely listened to what we intended to do. I think it was clear what will happen in the last bit of qualifying, I think we were foreseeing exactly what happened, but we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do and that’s why it was a mess. And I didn’t get a run in the end.
“Not happy with that, but obviously a good team result, which in this country, in Italy, is important. But as I said, not entirely happy because I thought it was clear what we communicated beforehand … between us, internal, so our team.”
Asked if he felt Leclerc was playing games, Vettel said: “Not from my side. I was the one trying to indicate, ‘Get out of the way’ because it was clear that I should be the one second in the second run getting a tow, because I was the first one in the first run.
“People were slowing down, Charles was slowing down and in the end I didn’t get across the line, nor did I have a good tow. So not a good outcome.”
Vettel will start the Italian Grand Prix from fourth position after an investigation into whether he abused track limits at Parabolica in the second part of qualifying was ruled out.