Mark Webber has admitted that he was surprised to be ahead of both McLaren and Ferrari in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, but suggested that the Woking team may have been aiming for early weekend headlines with its free practice pace.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton each paced one of the 90-minute sessions on Friday, sharing the top four with the two Mercedes drivers but, although the 2008 world champion led the first two phases of qualifying, it was Webber and Red Bull team-mate who came out on top in Saturday practice and Q3.

"Okay, they're not a million miles away, but there's a bit of a surprise that we beat Fernando and the two McLarens," Webber mused on Saturday afternoon, "They had a bit of a tough qualifying by the looks of it, for whatever reason.

"If you look at the last year-and-a-half or so, they love the publicity on Friday night, but they've got a quick car. But they are always very, very fast on Fridays, really quick, and they are always generally quickest on Friday. Saturday, I thought they would definitely [be up there]..."

While he was happy to be ahead of the Mercedes-powered heavyweights, however, Webber was clearly frustrated to have been edged once again by Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel - especially as the Aussie may have had a part to play in the German's success.

"In P3 this morning, he came a little bit my way on some of my settings, and it was a good battle again between both of us," Webber revealed, "He has done a good job in Q3 again. It was definitely a very good lap from Seb.

"I am pretty happy with my lap, so it was again big credit to the team. We have locked out the front row again. We did that in Melbourne as well and we would have had a good chance in Malaysia if it wasn't for the mixed session so, in the end, it's very, very positive for the team and also the mechanics.

"I gave everything and it wasn't enough. You'd like to be a bit further up but, in the end, we are in the position we deserve to be in. Seb stopped the hour glass quicker than I did. The stopwatch doesn't lie and that's how it went today."

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