Early-season F1 2011 World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was refusing to let himself get carried away after fairly demolishing his rivals for pole position ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix – his third in Shanghai in swift succession and his sixth from the last seven races full-stop – stressing that in reality, it's still only worth 'eight metres on the track tomorrow'.
Despite pacing all three practice sessions around the Shanghai International Circuit – where two years ago he led Red Bull Racing to its breakthrough F1 victory ahead of team-mate Mark Webber – there was still some doubt heading into qualifying as to whether Vettel would ultimately have the legs of the fast-improving McLaren-Mercedes' of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. On only his first run in Q3, he wasted little time in demonstrating that he did.
Laying down a commanding marker a staggering seven tenths of a second clear of Button, Hamilton's sole effort later on would make no indent either, and when the former failed to improve on his second flying lap, Vettel aborted his, safe in the knowledge that the 18th pole of his grand prix career was comfortably in the bag.
“We have done it again, but every single time is tough,” the 23-year-old underlined. “Today wasn't as straightforward as we planned, especially in Q2 – I made a bit of a mistake on the run I did then – but in Q3, I was confident that we would be able to improve quite a lot.
“Obviously, today we did a good job, but it's just eight metres on the track tomorrow. It will be a long race, but I think we can be happy with the car. We did some good long runs on Friday, so we have a reason to feel good, but it's also a threat to feel too good – and I pay attention that doesn't happen.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner similarly hailed his young protégé's
performance, pointing out that having canned his second 'flyer' in the top ten shoot-out, Vettel will now have an extra set of soft tyres available to him on race day compared to fellow front row-sitter Button.
“A third consecutive pole for Sebastian and, as he wasn't required to complete his second run in Q3, he was able to conserve his tyres for tomorrow,” reflected the Englishman. “[It was] an excellent performance from him today – a really fantastic first lap. We weren't sure what Lewis' pace was going to be, which is why we ran again – but in the end, it turned out that we didn't need to.”
“An impressive display from Sebastian again,” concurred Cyril Dumont, from RBR engine partner Renault. “What pace – three races and three pole positions – so congratulations to him!”