Melbourne, March 17, 2012 (AFP) - Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel insisted on Saturday that ending up sixth on the grid for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix was no disaster.
The 24-year-old German said he made a mistake on his final flying lap in qualifying, but was not quick enough anyway to overhaul Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.
Vettel ended up sixth on the grid for Sunday's race, one place behind his Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber who lost the use of his KERS (kinetic energy regeneration system) in the final part of the session.
"We would have loved to have been closer to the front, but in Q3, I wasn't happy with my lap," said the double world champion. "I made a mistake at the beginning and lost some time, so that was down to me."
He also said he was not as shocked as some in the paddock to see Red Bull's qualifying dominance from 2011 had not been carried over into the new season.
"I think what we saw today was not a surprise. The lap times were close. I could have been one or two places higher, but that's how it goes.
"We are not starting at the front, but we are not starting at the back either, so it's far from disastrous and regarding the car we know what we need to do."
Webber said: "I am reasonably happy with my lap. In the end, it could have been worse so I am pretty happy with it."
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said Webber's KERS failure was the first the team has had with the new RB8 car.
He said: "Mark lost his KERS, yes. It's unfortunate that it had to strike at the most critical time of qualifying.
"But nonetheless, he did an excellent lap. Sebastian never seemed to reallyfind the pace in the car that seemed to be there this morning, so we have plenty to look at this evening."