Mar.24 (Reuters) Red Bull found themselves on the back foot yet again in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday but Sebastian Vettel is hoping he has a strategic ace up his sleeve come race day.
The world champion was the only driver among the leaders to qualify on hard tyres and this could give him an advantage during Sunday’s race by helping him to run longer than his rivals before having to make his first pitstop.
“I didn’t feel comfortable on the medium compound so we decided to go on the hard and hopefully tomorrow that gives an advantage,” the 24-year-old German said.
Webber and Vettel qualified fourth and sixth respectively, after a similar performance in Australia, a far cry from last year when the devastatingly quick Red Bulls took pole position at 18 of the 19 Formula One races.
However, in the season opener last week, Vettel was able to leapfrog McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and haul himself up into second behind race winner Jenson Button, while Webber put in a strong recovery drive to finish fourth as the Red Bulls showed better race pace than they could manage in qualifying.
For Sunday, Vettel is banking on that speed in races to move up the order and possibly get on to the podium.
“To be on the podium I think we need to pass at least two cars,” said Vettel, who will start fifth as a result of a five-place penalty for Kimi Raikkonen for changing his gearbox.
“So we’ll see. I think, as I said, race pace looks promising. We are here to fight, it’s not like we come here to finish fifth or sixth.”
“We don’t come here to qualify sixth either but it was the best I could do today so we have to accept that and now move on and focus on the race tomorrow.”