Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Vettel sees no pattern to Leclerc’s superiority in qualifying

2019 Russian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says there’s no one area of qualifying where his team mate is beating him at the moment.

Charles Leclerc has out-qualified him for the last nine races in a row and took his fourth consecutive pole position in Sochi today. Vettel said he can see in the data where Leclerc had been able to find more time but that it isn’t consistently coming in the same kind of corners.

“Obviously in quali here and there I think we didn’t have the best sessions on my side,” said Vettel. “I think obviously today Charles was faster.

“It’s pretty easy to see where he’s faster. But it’s a little bit here and there, I don’t think [there’s] any pattern standing out saying that he’s always faster in the same type of corner.”

“I was quite happy in general,” Vettel added, “obviously a bit disrupted with the Q1 where we got a bit unfortunate with yellow flags and stuff.

“But I thought by the time we got to Q3 that was fine. Overall I was pretty happy with the car it just felt as if there was more in the car that I couldn’t get to.”

However Vettel is optimistic he will be more competitive in the race.

“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 the pace has never been a problem in the race so we’ll see what happens.”

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Dieter Rencken
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21 comments on “Vettel sees no pattern to Leclerc’s superiority in qualifying”

  1. That’s a brave and honest admission from Vettel.

    It must sting, to realize that age and talent aren’t set in stone, but are likely to ebb while other competitors are on the rise.

    And as much as anyone would be gracious to accept being outclassed, it must still grate a bit for people as competitive as these drivers that they’re being beaten.

    1. I think he’s missing something, he knows it yet he seeks no solution. if he is missing time, he just needs to do something. Start on his head

    2. @phylyp: I can’t see a reason to believe Vettel’s performance is worsening. Hamilton is older and he seems to be at the top of his game. Alonso is even older and he also seemed at his best last year. This seems to be a simple case of Vettel performing (roughly) at his usual level and finding a teammate who is a step ahead.

  2. I think it is telling how Leclerc is beating one of the greatest qualifiers of the last decade. I think it is quite scary for Seb how he doesn’t know where he loses the time. I expect though for him to be closer to race pace or at least I hope so.

    Watching the onboard laps, it seems that Charles is much more comfortable with the car and that he can throw it around and make it stick. Vettel seems to be more conservative with his laps which may explain the gap.

    Wish all the best to both Ferrari drivers. It will be spicy down to T1 with Vettel and probably Hamilton having slipstreaming.

    1. “I think it is telling how Leclerc is beating one of the greatest qualifiers of the last decade.”
      +1 Charles is an awesome hot lapper.

  3. If there isn’t a pattern, then Charles is faster, simple as that.
    He already has more pole positions than any other, and led more sessions than any other.

    And we can finally sense that Mercedes and Hamilton’s era is coming to a close with this guy.
    Hamilton is still quick, but Mercedes doesn’t have an answer for Ferrari’s power output, so nothing they can do about it.

    1. The difference is Charles. He is really a cold blooded predator. Very different from other species.

      1. @hamiledon

        The difference is Charles

        You simply can’t heap all the glory on Charles while omitting the beast that he is driving.
        F1 has always been about the combination of car and driver. That doesn’t take away from how well
        Leclerc is driving- you still need to deliver the goods, something Vettel isn’t doing.

        1. This guy just called Charles a “cold blooded predator”. You really thing you can convince him of anything?

    2. And we can finally sense that Mercedes and Hamilton’s era is coming to a close with this guy.
      Hamilton is still quick,

      I’d say that Hamilton’s improvement in his final Q3 run shows that he still is capable of eking out that final tenth or hundredths from a hot lap, without overdriving the car.

      I wouldn’t be so quick as to write Hamilton’s racing epitaph, because it promises to be entertaining days ahead as the old master and the young ‘un go racing, particularly after the hard racing at Monza.

      1. Possibly, it’s also possible Mercedes have already stopped developing the 2019 car and they are already advanced with the 2020 car – which may mean and even more dominant season next year. I wouldn’t write Hamilton or Mercedes off just yet.

  4. inb4 nasty comments

    Surprisingly honest from Seb.
    I think Charles is very hungry and pushing hard every session. Looking at the the last two pole laps in Singapore and Russia he’s pushing the SF90 to the max. He’s very good at correcting the car when he’s slightly over the limit.

  5. I don’t think Seb is worried about it. He knows that Binotto will straighten out the finishing order for him.

  6. He’s beating HAM, too!

    1. In a different car. That’s why they paint them a different colour.

      1. Brutal…hahaha.
        Much has been written about Max as the natural heir to Hamilton, but it seems this overlooked two things – one, Hamilton himself is going nowhere. And two, Leclerc is the pretender to that Hamilton throne.
        With the title more or less won, though, one suspects Mercedes will be focusing more and more on next year’s car, and I won’t be surprised if they begin stealing some Ferrari design ideas – that new nose on the Ferrari, the nostrils on it, and the little inlet plates that seem to keep the nose of the car so planted and appear to help generate its downforce – I expect Mercedes to already be working on these for the next few races. They won’t get it right, but it’s going to be a lovely rundown to the title for Hamilton, as he fights Leclerc race after race.
        Isn’t this what we all wanted? Good stuff!

  7. If Leclerc were not in this year’s Ferrari, so many people would be telling us how the Ferrari is slower than the Mercedes.

    Leclerc in the 2018 Ferrari would have won the title easily.

  8. This is actually bad news for leclerc. Any developing driver needs a benchmark that can show him where to improve. Be little faster at least in couple of corners so the other driver can learn as well even if he is a lot faster everywhere else. If vettel is slower than leclerc everywhere around the track and throughout a race then leclerc needs to find all the lap time improvements on his own.

    1. I somewhat agree @socksolid, but then again, so far it has often led him to not only qualify ahead of Vettel, but also netted him poles, so arguably, he is doing enough for niw, right?

  9. I think the big thing is Seb is a momentum driver, whereas Charles is seemingly a direction driver. Seb likes to carry speed across corners whereas Charles seems like someone who likes to point the car and get a straighter exit.

    Looking at the onboard comparisons of ghe last few races, I think (contrary to popular belief) that the Ferrari’s advantage is not power; but torque. That second phase of the exit when cars arent traction limited is where the Ferraris are stronger than the Mercs, not at the end of straights.

    With Ferrari’s lower cornering performance Vettel’s momentum “style” is more disadvantaged than Leclerc’s; and whatever speed deficit Leclerc has on any apex would be countered by the Ferrari’s greater early acceleration

    1. Wow! That is very well thought out, I might have to give this a bit more thought and analysis. Thank you.

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