Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Vettel Surprised by Ferrari Gap

Vettel Surprised by Ferrari Gap

World championship leader Sebastian Vettel took pole position with a lap more than half a second faster than that of Valtteri Bottas, the fastest of the two Mercedes drivers in third place.

Four times world champion Lewis Hamilton set a Formula One record of 28 successive scoring finishes on Sunday but was in no mood for celebrating.

Vettel said even he was surprised at the qualifying gap with Mercedes, who have won five of the last six Shanghai races. "So we started to really embrace those days and try to learn".

"So I knew that I had a little bit more and obviously in the last lap I got it all together and [was] very happy that when I crossed the line I was looking up to see the screen and I saw something green, which is usually good, and a little bit of purple".

"We started the weekend positively in practice, but the auto went away from us today". "The auto was wonderful and just kept getting better. It was really good", Vettel said.

The forecast is for a warmer race today and that should be better suited to Hamilton's Mercedes auto, but the Briton, who will have the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo occupying his mirrors, fears he will be looking over his shoulder rather than hunting down Vettel. "So I'm not anxious at all, I just know that I have to work hard, keep working harder, building on the rapport of my team".

"They have a really strong vehicle", he said.

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Max Verstappen of Red Bull-Tag Heuer (Renault) was fifth fastest with a lap 0.701 seconds slower than Vettel's best effort. In the afternoon he was slightly quicker with a time of 1:33.482.

Carlos Sainz in the other Renault was ninth with Romain Grosjean rounding out the top 10 for Haas.

Nico Hulkenberg secured his sixth successive P7 spot, with Sergio Perez placing his auto between the two Renaults in P8.

But it was a pretty miserable qualifying for "F1 Team GB", with the McLarens of Alonso and Vandoorne starting in 13th and 14th, and the Williams of Sirotkin and Stroll a miserable 16th and 18th.

'They [Ferrari] are rapid at the moment, that is a challenge but we will give it everything we've got'. But he was edged out by Vettel as the German took pole by less than a tenth of a second. Verstappen was ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo who was 0.853 seconds off pole and came close to being eliminated in Q1 itself after a failed turbo in the third free practice session earlier today forced the team to rebuild the engine.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh for the US -owned Haas team ahead of the other Renault of Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

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