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Vettel still thinks he can beat McLarens
Missing much of Practice Three didn’t scupper Sebastian Vettel as much as Red Bull fans feared during qualifying in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Starting from P3 and with his title rival Fernando Alonso back down in seventh, Vettel is confident he will leave Yas Marina still leading the drivers’ standings…

Q: Sebastian, you stopped out on track at the end of qualifying. Why? Was it an engine problem or low fuel?
Sebastian Vettel: Neither. We will have to find out what happened. I was told over the team radio to come back to the pits as fast as I could, which doesn’t suggest the issue was low fuel. You wouldn’t say something like that if there was a risk of being on the limit.

Q: And the engine felt good?
SV: Yes, there was no issue whatsoever. But I got a brief and short instruction to stop the car.

Q: P3 is not great but, given where Fernando Alonso is on the grid, it isn’t a catastrophe…
SV: P3 is never a catastrophe! But yes, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my fast lap. The second try especially was not ideal as we had problems getting the tyres up to temperature. On top of that I was caught between Felipe (Massa) in front of me and Jenson (Button) behind me so I couldn’t really push to the extent I wanted. But it is not the moment to accuse anybody of anything. I should have been faster here and there and I made a minor mistake so I could have made it to P2 probably. Nevertheless there’s every chance on Sunday. The race is long and the car feels fantastic especially in race trim. So the plan is to leave Abu Dhabi still leading the standings.

Q: How much did your lack of running in Practice Three influence your qualifying?
SV: How would I know? You can never give an answer to such a question as it might mean everything and nothing. You will simply never find out. We probably would have wanted to try out more things but in the end we are quite satisfied with the qualifying result. It is a good position for the race. The goal is to beat the McLarens, which will be hard enough to do as they’ve shown good performance so far this weekend.

Q: Would you say that the pace McLaren have shown today is a snapshot or a real turnaround in fortune?
SV: Well, McLaren have been fast at the last couple of races. In reality you have to say that the McLaren has been one of the best cars on the grid since Spa and this track is better suited to them than the last few ones. But don’t get me wrong, they are not miles away. They are still within grasp! So it is up to us to make the most out of what we have.

Q: Are you worried about reliability?
SV: I don’t think so. This race is no different to the races we have had lately. In the morning we had problems with the brakes. It was a shame to lose track time but we fixed the problem and the brakes were very good in qualifying.

Q: What’s your plan for tomorrow?
SV: To have a good race! We know who is ahead of us - Lewis (Hamilton) and Mark (Webber).
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