Vettel 'chickened out' on final Q3 lap
Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel says he "chickened out" on the brakes in his final lap in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying, as he was pipped to pole by Valtteri Bottas.
Vettel was ahead of his Mercedes rival after the first runs in the final qualifying segment, but he came up just short of an improvement with his second and final flying lap.
Bottas did manage to improve, putting together a last-gasp effort that denied Vettel pole by 0.038s.
"I was very happy with the first lap," Vettel said. "We knew that in the last corner in Q3 I had a bit left as I lost rear a bit. I knew I could gain some time.
"I chickened out a little bit too early in the first corner [on the final lap], braking too early - the grip was there - so I lost some time compared to first run.
"I got some [time] back at the last corner but by then I was overall too far behind.
"It was not that bad. I was happy with my first lap. Three hundredths [to Bottas], you always think there was some place I could get that."
Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H on track during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2017 in Sao Paulo, BrazilGetty Images
Despite missing out on pole, Vettel appeared bullish on his chances of claiming his third Brazilian Grand Prix win on Sunday, saying his long runs in practice looked strong compared to Bottas "in particular".
Having scored his third pole position for Mercedes, Bottas felt his qualifying pace in Brazil was a continuation of the recent upward trend in his performances.
The Finn has struggled to match team-mate Lewis Hamilton since the summer break, but he managed to put the W08 on pole while Hamilton crashed out in Q1.
"Sometimes it has been more difficult and that is how it goes in racing," Bottas said.
"For me, the last few races have been all the time on the up and feeling better and better with the car - and working hard on the issues I've been having.
"We managed to learn from the mistakes and the tricky sessions, and the last few weekends have been a lot better."