Sebastian Vettel felt he lost some of the time to Lewis Hamilton in the final turn after braking slightly too early, but despite this he was happy that Scuderia Ferrari appear to be close to the pace of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in China this weekend.
The German was able to split the two Mercedes drivers, ending up 0.186 seconds down on Hamilton but 0.001 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas, but he felt there was not much more time to find during his qualifying run despite the early braking into the final corner.
After taking victory in the season opening in Australia from the same position but with more of a gap to Hamilton in qualifying, Vettel heads into race day with confidence aiming for two wins in a row.
“It was a bit closer than in Australia, so a good session overall with lots of chances for tomorrow,” said Vettel. “We’ll see what the race can bring, with the different conditions and everything.
“Of course I would have liked to be even closer, knowing that the Mercedes would be very strong in Q3, as they proved to be. We had some luck with Valtteri, because when you’re a thousand of a second apart, it could be one way or the other.
“I was happy with my lap, even if I braked a bit too early for the last corner, hit the kerb hard and had to wait for the car to settle. That’s where I lost a bit of time, but not all the gap to Lewis. There wasn’t much more I could have gained.
“So this result on a totally different track, with conditions significantly cooler than Melbourne, is definitely good news. The confidence is there, I trust what the car is telling me and she seems to respond to what I tell her. It’s a good match but we need to improve further.”