Sebastian Vettel has accepted blame for failing to build on Ferrari's potential pole position pace in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, the German falling short in fourth place.

With Ferrari seemingly closer to Mercedes on raw single lap pace and Lewis Hamilton eliminated early by technical issues, Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen had looked set to mount pressure on Nico Rosberg for pole.

However, with Vettel opting to limit himself to just a single run in Q3, he failed to find form on his sole lap, ending up eight tenths adrift of the pole winning Mercedes.

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Indeed, though Vettel believes Mercedes always had enough in hand to secure pole position, he says the car was good enough for the front row.

"In all honesty, after the lap I had in the end I don't think I deserve to be in the top three," he said. "I wasn't doing a good job. The car wasn't good enough, P2 was there but I had a bad lap at the end.

"I think Nico was strong in the end and the fact they improved a lot in the last sector. I think the fact they were able to turn it up so they had it in the pocket throughout qualifying. Nevertheless, qualifying is over, I am not where I want to be but that is how it goes sometimes.

Looking ahead to the race, Vettel has more confidence, saying the higher tyre degradation could work to Ferrari's advantage.

"I think we have a strong car," he continued. "It won't be easy but I think we are closer than the last two races with tyre degradation that could come towards our direction."