Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel admitted that he “chickened out” while braking during the final lap of Q3 as Valtteri Bottas took the top spot.
After the first runs in Q3, Vettel was ahead of Bottas, but could not improve his performance in the second and final runs.
On the other hand, Bottas improved his laptime in the final lap and pipped Vettel by 0.038s.
Vettel revealed that after losing time in the first sector, he did not brake hard enough at the Turn 1 left-hander.
“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 the first run.”
In spite of losing time in the first sector, Vettel continued his lap trying hard to catch up the lost time in the last two sectors, but he was half a tenth slower than his first run and lost the pole.
“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. I think it was okay. Three hundredths [to Bottas], you always think there was someplace I could get that.”
Although he lost the pole, the German driver was still positive about his chances of winning his third Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday adding that his long runs during practice were very close to Bottas “in particular”.
Bottas in a better form
This was Bottas’ third pole position in a Mercedes car and the Finn believes that his pace in the qualy is a result of his improving form.
Bottas had a tough time matching Hamilton’s pace in the last few races. But on Friday’s practice runs, the Finn ran very close to Hamilton’s pace and landed the pole while the Briton crashed heavily 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.
“It has been the case all the weekend here. Lewis wasn’t anymore in Q2 and Q3 but overall I am pleased with the performance.”