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Vettel bewildered by qualifying flop in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Reigning Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel says he can’t understand why he struggled so much in a rain-hit qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix on Saturday, pushing him down to a starting grid spot of 12th for Sunday’s race.

Vettel, who is aiming for his fifth-straight drivers’ championship, was brought down to earth at a rainy Albert Park street circuit, finishing well off the pace of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and his new Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

The German described the handling of his car as “horrible” during pre-qualifying practice, and things only got worse in qualifying

Vettel said “once it started to rain, I was struggling with drivability … it made life pretty difficult” but he was buoyed by Ricciardo’s performance, putting “one car where it belongs.”

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