Sebastian Vettel has no idea where his pace went in Canada as he was eliminated in the first session.
It was the third time this season that the German had been eliminated in the first phase of qualifying, but it looked as though exiting Q1 in wet conditions would not be an issue given the results of the third and final practice session.
Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly and Vettel were separated by less than a tenth of a second as they set their laps on the extreme wet tyre.
Not everyone had a real go at it on Saturday morning, but Aston Martin’s pace was still extremely promising all weekend, and Vettel was an average of just under six tenths of a second adrift of the pace of Max Verstappen in the dry on Friday.
In all conditions, it seemed as though the British side had the pace to compete in Canada, but Vettel was over two seconds behind Verstappen in Q1 in Montreal as he ended up P17 just ahead of team-mate Lance Stroll.
“I can’t believe it. That can’t be. What was that? It was so different to this morning, so different,” said an exasperated Vettel over the radio after he was eliminated.
“I had no grip. It felt like the rear left was broken, man.”
In the media pen, the four-time world champion affirmed that he and his team had some overnight homework to do if they are to figure out just why their pace so mysteriously went missing between practice and qualifying.
“Yeah, very frustrating because we had so much pace and we have no idea where it went,” added Vettel after qualifying.
“It’s probably still somewhere but yeah, that was a surprise.
“I had very low grip and, I mean, given how the car felt, it wasn’t a surprise we were that slow.
“But obviously we didn’t change anything from this morning, not much, and it was shocking.
“So, very difficult to drive. A lot of sliding, very poor rear so we need to have a look, something clearly didn’t work.”
Vettel was on to score points in Miami after starting from the pit lane, but contact with Mick Schumacher denied him that as Stroll picked up the pieces to claim P10 having also started from the pit lane.
The 53-time race winner also recovered from 16th to finish 11th in Barcelona, so Aston Martin have form of making superb comebacks to take good results this year.
“[I’m] always optimistic,” added Vettel.
“But yeah, let’s see. I mean, we had some good pace yesterday. And if we find whatever what was wrong, then I think we should be back to the normal place.
“So, it puts us on the back foot because we start further back. But hey, it’s not the first race we would come back.”
Vettel has scored points on three occasions this year and, while the Aston Martin is beginning to look quicker than it did at the start of the year, Saturday’s qualifying result epitomises the inconsistency that remains in their car.