At least I took part! – Vettel after latest qualifying struggles

Charles Leclerc outshone Sebastian Vettel in qualifying at Silverstone, leaving the four-time world champion keen to bounce back.

Sebastian Vettel will start sixth at the British Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel will start sixth at the British Grand Prix   -  Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel joked "at least I took part" after his latest poor qualifying session at the British Grand Prix but insisted he is more optimistic about the race on Sunday.

The Ferrari driver - a winner last year at Silverstone - faces a tough ask to repeat that success after qualifying down in sixth position.

Team-mate Charles Leclerc has been quicker throughout the weekend and will start third after pushing pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in the two Mercedes all the way on Saturday.

But Vettel was 0.694 seconds adrift of Bottas and over five tenths behind Leclerc, meaning he was also beaten by the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.

"I've had worse ones - at least I took part!" Vettel told Sky Sports about how qualifying had gone. "I don't know, I didn't have the speed.

READ: British GP: Bottas edges out Hamilton for dramatic pole at Silverstone

"Usually it's pretty clear that you go faster from Q1 to Q3 without doing anything but that did not happen, so it's a bit strange. I didn't have a great feel for the car and it just didn't come."

It continues a frustrating run for the four-time world champion, who has been outqualified by Leclerc for three straight races and has not stood on top of the podium since August 2018 at the Belgian Grand Prix. 

Vettel has analysed the data to try to determine the cause of the difference in pace between the two SF90s.

"Yeah [I looked at data] - I think he did a good job," Vettel said of Leclerc.

"For me, I don't have an answer now. I think it's fairly evenly spread. He seems to gain a bit everywhere [on the track]. I just didn't really have a great feeling; you need a good feeling to throw the car from one side to the other, it's [confidence].

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"I'm not happy but even more looking forward to [Sunday] now. Not [worried] because the race is never a problem. I would rather start further up but race pace is normally fine, it has been for most of the year. 

"The Mercs will be quick, but we will see what happens, it will be a tough battle between us and the Red Bulls I guess."

Asked about the prospect of having to battle Gasly – who is showing improved pace at Silverstone – as well as Verstappen, Vettel replied: "One [Red Bull] would be boring – Max has calmed down a bit [these days]!"