Chinese GP: Sebastian Vettel praises ‘unbelieveable’ Ferrari pace

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen discuss locking out the front row for the Chinese GP.

Sebastian Vettel has hailed Ferrari’s “unbelievable” pace after sealing a sublime pole position at the Chinese GP and admits he is surprised by the gap to Mercedes.

Vettel edged out team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by just 0.087s on Saturday, with the two Ferrari drivers more than half a second clear of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel on pole, Hamilton fourth

After following up victory at 2018’s first two races with another pole, Vettel’s feat at Ferrari has been labelled a “turning point” by Sky F1’s Damon Hill as Mercedes, double world champions for the last four years, failed to find an answer.

“The car was unbelievable and it just got better,” said a jubilant Vettel, who set a track record with his final Q3 lap. “I was very happy with the settings I had from the beginning.

“We are surprised [by the gap to Mercedes]. The first three races have been a bit different, the tracks are quite different to each other but to have that much of a gap I think is a surprise.”

It is Ferrari’s first China pole in 14 years, while Vettel and Raikkonen also ensured F1’s most historic and successful team sealed back-to-back front-row lockouts for the first time since 2006.

What’s more, it ended Mercedes’ impressive pole streak, dating back to 2011, in Shanghai.

“It has been a Mercedes track for the last six years so it’s good to break their run,” Vettel added to Sky F1.

“It’s good news. It shows that we have some potential in the car and then if we can unleash it and it’s coming together, it feels good.

“If you find the sweet spot, where ever you are in the field it helps you to enhance your performance. That’s probably what happened today, I don’t know if the others struggled with their tyres today but for us it was pretty straight-forward.”

There was a comparatively glum driver in the sister Ferrari, as Raikkonen was once again beaten to pole by his team-mate.

Much like Bahrain, Raikkonen appeared to have a pace advantage over Vettel – even taking provisional pole in Q3 – but admitted second place was “far from ideal” after failing to improve in the final sector on his last lap.

The Finn was, however, happy with Ferrari’s day overall and felt their performance wasn’t track-specific.

“We’re learning more about the car and getting more from it,” he said. “If the car works somewhere, it should work everywhere and I think we’ve been pretty consistent.

“We’re pretty happy with things.”

Will Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari make it three wins in a row or can Mercedes and Red Bull respond in Shanghai? Watch the Chinese GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Get Sky Sports F1.

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