Sebastian Vettel’s miserable start to the 2020 season continued as the four-time world-champion qualified in 11th position for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver failed to make it into Q3 for the third time in six races though he only narrowly missed out – just 0.002 seconds behind Lando Norris in the McLaren.
Ferrari changed Vettel’s chassis ahead of the weekend as they looked to ease his recent struggles with the SF1000.
However the German still found himself struggling for pace in comparison to his younger team-mate Charles LeClerc, who did make it into Q3.
After the session, the 33-year-old said he was struggling to find an answer to his very ‘nervous’ Ferrari.
He said: ‘The first sector was okay, but then in the middle sector the car started (to) feel more and more nervous.
‘I struggled in particular in Turn 7, losing the rear halfway, so it was difficult to judge how much speed to carry in. Also Turn 5 was very tricky for me this afternoon.
‘That’s the middle sector, and in the last sector, it got better towards the end, but still very tricky to find the right balance.
‘It was one of the better sessions this weekend, but still obviously not good enough.’
Asked whether the car had improved at all as a result of the change, Vettel said his fortunes were ‘up and down’.
‘There are some things I can’t really put an answer to. But I’m trying to do everything I can, and ignore all the things that might not be right, and do the best that I can. That’s all I can do at the moment.’
On-board footage of Vettel during the qualifying session saw him wrestling with his Ferrari car, which is considerably slower than the car the in which the German lined up third on the grid at the same race last season.
After several disappointing seasons at Ferrari in which he was unable to prevent Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes from winning the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, Vettel is set to leave the team at the end of the season.
He is to be replaced by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, however Vettel’s future in the sport is uncertain.
There has been recent speculation that he will join the Racing Point team, which will become Aston Martin in 2021, to potentially replace Sergio Perez.
His final swansong at the Maranello though is turning into a nightmare though, and he has only scored ten points this season compared to LeClerc’s 45.
He is also trailing his Monegasque team-mate 4-2 in the qualifying head-to head.
Nico Rosberg, the 2016 Formula One World Champion, told Sky Sports of the challenges that Vettel is facing at the moment.
He said: ‘It must be so tough for him mentally now as well.
‘To miss out on Q3 by two thousandths of a second from Lando Norris, that’s like 10cm at the end of the lap. For him, that must be very, very frustrating.
‘I think he’s in one of the most difficult mental challenges of his career at the moment.’