Sebastian Vettel qualifying failure surprises F1 rivals Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel admitted he was surprised to have qualified down in 11th for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix and pace-setters Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were similarly taken aback by Ferrari’s poor performance. The four-time F1 champion faces a battle to secure serious points in Spielberg after being eliminated in Q2 on Saturday.

Vettel was forced to watch on during Q3 as Ferrari’s long-time rivals Mercedes secured a one-two with Bottas and Hamilton.

The Prancing Horse’s problems were compounded by Charles Leclerc’s qualifying struggles, with the Monegasque set to start seventh at the Red Bull Ring.

Haas and Alfa Romeo, both of which have their engines supplied by Ferrari, will see their drivers start the season-opener from 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th respectively.

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Vettel was not expecting to be so far off the pace as qualifying unfolded, with Red Bull, McLaren and Racing Point joining Mercedes in outperforming his team.

Bottas and Hamilton were asked about Ferrari’s failings during the post-qualifying press conference and both drivers admitted they were shocked.

Bottas, who will start on pole for the third time in four years, branded Vettel and Ferrari’s performance as “just really surprising”.

Hamilton, who was initially unaware of how badly Ferrari had performed, said: “Not expecting them to be that far behind but, as Max [Verstappen] said, I don’t know what their reasons are, so…”

Max Verstappen, who will start third on the grid behind the all-Mercedes front row, was at a loss to explain Ferrari’s nightmare showing.

“Well, I guess you have to ask Ferrari about that!” Verstappen said. “The engineers. I don’t know.

“I’m driving with the Honda-powered car so I have no information why that is.”

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Vettel had never before failed to make it to Q3 due to a sheer lack of pace during his time driving for Ferrari.

And he admitted he was blown away to have been left on the sixth row for the start of Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

“Of course, it’s a surprise,” Vettel said. “We thought that we had a little bit more in hand but it looks like the others were probably running a bit more fuel or more conservative in practice.

“I wasn’t quite happy with the car, wasn’t so happy with the car. More oversteer on entry than I would like. But we will see.

“I think tomorrow is a different picture. Maybe with the track getting a bit hotter it was bit more costly for us today.”

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