Sebastian Vettel admitted his Austrian Grand Prix Q2 exit came as a “surprise”, and suggested Ferrari had underestimated its rivals’ true pace.
Vettel was only able to go 11th-fastest in the second part of qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, ruling him out of the pole shootout.
Ferrari had been braced for a tough start to the F1 season after admitting it knew its aerodynamic concept was wrong and that the upgrades that could begin to fix that wouldn’t be ready until round three in Hungary.
But Vettel – who will leave Ferrari at the end of the year – admitted he hadn’t expected qualifying to go as badly as it did.
“Of course it’s a surprise,” he 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 and more conservative in practice.
“I was not so happy with the car, more oversteer on entry than I would like.”
He is still optimistic that Ferrari’s race pace will be stronger, and suggested warmer temperatures in qualifying made his team’s plight look worse than it is.
“I think tomorrow is a different picture,” said Vettel.
“Maybe the track getting hotter was a bit more costly for us today.
“We’ll see, it’s a long race. I think in race trim we are always better and we will be there to make up some ground and score some good points.”
Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc only just made it into Q3 with the 10th-fastest Q2 time, and could only manage seventh on the grid – outpaced by Lando Norris’s McLaren and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez as well as the Mercedes and Red Bulls.