TOUGH RACE AHEAD: Vettel, who has been hampered by reliability problems, qualified second for the Russian GP but will start seventh after picking up a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Image: AP / Yuri Kochetkov
Sochi - Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen remained upbeat Saturday despite being set to start Sunday's 2016 Russian GP from seventh and third on the grid respectively.
Four-time champion Vettel said he was sure the Italian team would respond and mount a fierce challenge to defending champions and runaway leaders Mercedes.
Raikkonen blamed himself for an error that cost him a front row spot: "It's not ideal. It's disappointing, but we will be on the clean side and third place. think it could have been an awful lot worse, so we'll try to have a good start and we'll go from there."
As it happened: 2016 Russian GP - qualifying
Vettel, who has been hampered by reliability problems, qualified second, but will start seventh after picking up a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Raikkonen qualified fourth, but will start third, thanks to Vettel's enforced demotion.
Raikkonen said: "I ran wide in the last corner, but I have been struggling the whole weekend to put any decent laps together. It was better in qualifying, but I was still fighting with the front in a few places."
Nico Rosberg secured Mercedes' 40th pole in the last 42 Grands Prix by outpacing Vettel by more than seven-tenths of a second.
Vettel said. "It is only three and a half races so far. We had quite a trip so far with not everything going according to plan. We could have won the first race if things had gone a bit different.
"Overall it is not too bad. We have shown good pace on Sunday and that is when you get points. We are working hard. Is is not easy. Those guys at Mercedes are doing well.
"It is not a kindergarten here. It is for grown-ups and therefore the challenge is tough. We want to be the best so we need to challenge the best - and I am confident we can turn things around."
Although Vettel will start from the fourth row of the grid, he admits the podium is still the target.
"When you qualifying second that is where you belong, with penalty you start a bit further back," he said.
"We are quicker than those cars, we have good chance to make up ground but it is never easy. We will see."