Sebastian Vettel insists that he is not alarmed by Kimi Raikkonen’s continued upswing in form, after the Finn again outqualified him at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen has made good progress this year in getting his Ferrari car better suited to his driving style, and that has paid dividends in allowing him to push Vettel harder.
His third-place grid slot at Interlagos, two places ahead of Vettel, means he will start higher up than his teammate for the 11th time in 20 races this season.
When asked if the situation was simply down to Raikkonen progress or there was some issue with the car that was hurting his own form, Vettel said: “To be fair, he did a very good job [in qualifying]. He nailed it when it mattered.
“There have been a couple of qualifyings where here or there I didn’t deliver my best, so I have to be also fair and not say that there is something wrong or try to blame something.
“I think we have tremendous respect for each other. And it is the other way around, it is the same from his side. So we are racing hard, we want to outqualify each other and only one can be happy on Saturday – but, overall, it has been a good day for us.
“We have shown what the car can do. We knew it would be tight and for Sundays we usually find a lot more consistency and pace, so I am confident we can have a good battle for the podium.
“For sure our main opponent will be Red Bull, Mercedes seems to be a little bit too quick, so we see – maybe there is some rain. After all, it is Brazil.”
Vettel said that mistakes in the final two corners had hurt his chances of beating Raikkonen, but he was encouraged by what Ferrari had delivered overall.
“In previous qualifyings we struggled to show our pace but here it was pretty close. We managed to split the [Red Bull] cars, but ideally we would have liked to be ahead of both of them.
“It was possible, but in my final run I messed up the last two corners a little bit. But we showed the pace the car has for the race and we should be a little bit quicker. So we will see what we can do.”