Sebastian Vettel will start the Italian GP from fifth place despite Red Bull struggling for one lap pace at Monza.
Vettel only just made it out of Q2, while his team mate Mark Webber was left stranded in 11th place.
In Q3 Vettel benefited from problems for Fernando Alonso to take sixth, and gained another place from Paul Di Resta’s penalty.
In Spa Vettel qualified 11th, made a bad start, and still managed to finish second. Asked by this blog if today had been a good case of damage limitation, Vettel agreed.
“Yeah I think P6 was probably the maximum we could get today,” he said. “The final attempt was a bit messy with traffic. Obviously I tried to get a bit of a tow. It probably wasn’t working perfectly but nevertheless as I said sixth on the grid and then with Paul’s penalty to start from fifth was more than we probably expected this morning, to be honest.”
Vettel said that any weaknesses in the package this weekend were not related to previous events.
“We think it’s a different story here compared to other races. It’s not a big secret that we are not quick enough on the straights, and equally we’re not quick enough in the corners. If you combine the two then it’s difficult to be fastest.
“I think race pace should be a little bit better. It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen, but I think since yesterday we made progress, and if anything our most competitive run was the long run yesterday. So we should be in better shape.
“Obviously we need to wait and see how the others are, how quick they will be, maybe they have done little tweaks or adjustments, but I think we should be alright in the race. But surely we are not expecting to win. I think the pace was not there at any time this weekend. I’m looking forward to a good car in the race, but it’s difficult to know what we can do.”
One extra concern for RBR is that in FP3 Vettel suffered an alternator failure – something that Renault and the team thought had been addressed after Valencia.
“It was a big surprise, it happened this morning, and we didn’t expect it at all after what happened earlier this year in Valencia. We had a fix and we were convinced that we would not run into any kind of problem again, therefore it was a big surprise. At the moment obviously it’s not clear why it happened. It’s difficult to react – you obviously just put a spare alternator on the car, and you go again. But I’m reasonably confident that with the mileage we’ve done so far without any trouble then we should be fine tomorrow.”