Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc is in “another league” after he failed to make it through to Q3 for an eighth successive event.
Vettel out-qualified Leclerc at two of the opening three rounds but has not since beaten the 23-year-old on a Saturday.
Vettel last appeared in the top 10 shootout at the first Silverstone event, a run which also included a Q1 exit on Ferrari’s home soil at Monza.
Leclerc, meanwhile, secured fourth on the grid at the Portuguese Grand Prix, marking the third time in the last four events that he has finished best-of-the-rest behind Mercedes and Red Bull.
“At the moment it’s beyond me,” said Vettel. “It’s not just beating, it’s like another league.
“I try everything I can. I think the laps I make, which I am content with, are still too slow.
“At the moment there is noting more I can do, than just getting everything out of myself and the car.”
Vettel was within the top 10 in Q1 on Soft tyres before Ferrari put both drivers on Mediums in Q2.
While Leclerc secured safe passage, eventually going on to take fourth, Vettel slumped to the rear of the 15-driver field in the session, behind Williams’ George Russell.
“I don’t know why I have such a hard time getting the tyres up to temperature that it feels a bit different every time,” he said.
“As I said, the car felt good the first time I tried it. I thought that with the Medium I could easily drive the time of Q1. That was the target, but it wasn’t that easy.”