Vettel: I did not get the best out of the car
Sebastian Vettel conceded he "did not get the best out of his car" in Q3 at the French Grand Prix and will now start Sunday's race in seventh on the grid.
The Ferrari driver explained the pace of Mercedes was significantly ahead of the rest and that the upgrades to his team's SF90 car this weekend were not as positive as expected, prompting most of them to be scaled back prior to qualifying.
But as well as trailing pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and team-mate Charles Leclerc, Vettel will also unexpectedly line up behind Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Vettel abandoned his first attempt at a flying lap in Q3 after a problem with a gear shift, leaving him just one effort at the end of the session to determine his spot, but he finished a disappointing 1.480seconds off Hamilton's pace.
"I don't know what happened," Vettel told Sky Sports about his first run. "I lost so much momentum there was no point to finish that lap."
Of the session as a whole, the German added: "Not great. It was up and down, some laps I felt really good and others I didn't.
"Obviously in the end I didn't get the best out of the car which is not satisfying. But it was difficult for me as some laps were really good and just coming, then other laps I don't know why I didn't have the grip I seemed to have the runs before.
"It's a shame it happened in Q3, it would have been better if we were slower and it had happened in the other segments.
"We reverted on most of [the upgrades] so obviously it was not the step that we had expected.
"But we have good pace to have a good race. Obviously Mercedes are far away but we should be in the mix with Red Bull."
A poor qualifying session was not what Vettel needed as he looks to bounce back from a controversial Canadian Grand Prix last time out, where a time penalty following a battle with Hamilton cost him what would have been a first victory of the season.