Sebastian Vettel has laid down the gauntlet to his rivals after claiming pole-position for the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix, but says the team “didn’t expect to be so strong” after dominating qualifying.
Vettel posted the fifty-second pole-position of his career by narrowly beating his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for the second time in the space of a week with a track record time of 1:31.095.
“It’s been a great result and I am really happy for the team”, said Vettel. “Today the car was amazing and it was great fighting for the front row with both cars on our own.
“It was very windy and not easy to get the right feeling. However, when the car is quick and works, you get a lot of confidence and that helps.”
Both Vettel and Raikkonen’s times were over half-a-second quicker than those of Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport rivals Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, a margin that surprised the pole-sitter.
“We didn’t expect to be so strong compared to our competition. We made some small changes today on our car, but it was pretty good yesterday already.
“I made some mistakes during my first lap in turn three and six, where I had oversteer. The tires here are very sensitive, so I knew that if I kept it clean, then the final part of the lap would be better.
“I didn’t know what the others were doing, but I was quite sure about getting the pole because I think I was one of the last cars and so could profit from track evolution.”
As has been the case so far this year, Vettel predicts the race to be a close fight between he and his rivals.
“Tomorrow the weather should be sunny, which makes the asphalt hotter. We’ll see how it works, but I think we’ll be very close”.