Sebastian Vettel says that he isn’t worried about his prospects for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, despite managing to complete only 12 laps in the second free practice session on Friday.
Vettel was on his first flying lap on the new hypersoft tyres when he ran wide in the penultimate corner of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, and tapped the right rear of his Ferrari on the barrier.
Although it didn’t appear to be a major impact, he nonetheless immediately aborted his run and dived down pit lane so that the team could check over his car for damage.
And the news wasn’t good, with fluid discovered to be leaking from a broken radiator cooling pipe. The engineers got to work, but Vettel was unable to take part in the rest of the session and missed out on crucial race simulations.
“I tried a little bit too hard and we lost some time,” said Vettel. “Obviously there was a bit more than just a kiss. We took a precaution and decided not to run.
“We lost some time which is not ideal. Nevertheless I’ve got a good feel for the car,” he continued. “The lap I had up to the kiss to the wall was okay, but I wasn’t very happy with the car.”
He added that he had been happier with how things had gone in the late afternoon FP1 session.
“There was some phases that were really good,” he commented. “In the evening we tried something, maybe it didn’t work, I think we’ll probably go back. But that’s normal.”
Despite missing out on so much track time, Vettel was confident it wouldn’t prove a major setback to his hopes of catching Lewis Hamilton in the championship standings this weekend.
“No, not at all,” he insisted. “It’s not what I wanted today, but sometimes it’s like this. I think we can recover most of it tomorrow.
“It will be key to find the right balance and to feel the car a little bit better than this evening, then we should be fine.
“We roughly know what to look at, also from the other cars, so it’s not a big drama if you lose a bit of track time,” he said.
“By now I think you have quite good experience reading into the others, what they did, and reading into their runs with tyres – which will obviously be key for Sunday.”
Vettel was boosted by the knowledge that his team mate Kimi Raikkonen’s time had been half a second faster than anyone else on track, with the exception of Hamilton.
“I think it is very close with all the three teams,” he said. “I think Red Bull is maybe closer, they looked quick.
“We won’t really know before Sunday but obviously here the qualifying is important so we will see where we are tomorrow.
“It’s not yet where I want it to be but for tomorrow we should be in a better place,” he said. “Overall the car is working, we can improve it from where it was.”