Sebastian Vettel has challenged Ferrari to improve its one-lap pace in a bid to maximise its race prospects, amid a difficult run.
Vettel took five pole positions prior to the summer break – including a hat-trick from Bahrain through Azerbaijan – but has not added to his tally since he qualified atop the pack for his home event in Germany.
During that run he has witnessed an eight-point title advantage over Lewis Hamilton turn into a 67-point deficit compared to his opponent, with his championship prospects hanging by a thread.
“It happens sometimes that when something goes wrong on Saturday you might pay the price on Sunday,” he said.
“Otherwise, if you do something wrong on Saturday it doesn’t matter on Sunday.
“Unfortunately from our point of view whatever we missed on Saturday was quite painful the day after so it’s like this and we then need to focus on the Saturday, but what’s behind us we can’t change any more.
“There are things that we have to do better in the future, but we can’t go back and change them, so I think we look forward and make sure we get the next Saturdays right in order to get better Sundays.”
Vettel’s qualifying malaise
A six-round pole position drought may not seem overly dramatic but in the context of an ostensibly close title battle it has proven to be a crucial differentiator.
Vettel missed out in wet conditions in Hungary and Belgium; he went on to win the latter, but fourth on the grid in the former compromised his prospects, and he finished second to Hamilton in a race he could have won.
An irritated Vettel was not given a favourable slipstream position at Monza and, allied to a scruffy Q3 lap, missed out to Kimi Raikkonen, who preserved his spot on an opening lap in which Vettel spun while under pressure from Hamilton.
Ferrari’s pace in Singapore went missing in Q3 owing to a combination of failing to optimise its out laps and superb efforts from both Hamilton and Max Verstappen, leaving Vettel third.
Ferrari lacked speed in both Russia and Japan, though the Intermediate gamble at the most recent event, and an error at Spoon, left Vettel only eighth, from where he collided with Verstappen.