Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Bourdais made it both Scuderia Toro Rossos inside the top ten on the starting grid for the fifth time in six outings in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix – against the predictions of the small Faenza-based concern's technical director Giorgio Ascanelli.
Whilst Bourdais has been a top ten fixture from the word 'go' around the Shanghai International Circuit – building on his recent stellar run of form as he bids to retain his seat in the top flight in 2009 – Vettel's weekend has been more of a struggle, so for the young German to put his STR3 sixth on the grid with the sister car eighth, following Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld's demotions, was a not inconsiderable accomplishment.
“A difficult day yesterday and also this morning,” summarised Vettel, who became Formula 1's youngest-ever winner and pole position-sitter at Monza last month, “but before qualifying we made a few changes that helped us. We can be very happy with this result; I don't think I could have done better, and it's better than we expected.
“Tomorrow in the race I think it will be hard to catch the guys in front, so I will run my own race, do the best I can and if we can bring the car home then we will see what we have achieved.”
“I was very happy to make it through to Q3,” added Bourdais, “but then the final part of the session was pretty tough as we had no option tyres left at the end. I am very happy with this result, and I think we are looking good for the race as we have a sensible strategy.”
As the Red Bull 'junior' squad fights to preserve its sixth position in the constructors' title chase from 'parent' outfit Red Bull Racing and former multiple world champions Williams, getting both machines ahead of all four of its competitors' cars on the grid was an important step, Ascanelli confirmed.
“Bourdais has [produced] a solid performance all weekend,” the Italian underlined, “doing a very good job. With Vettel we struggled through P1, P2 and P3 and then we tried something different on the car before qualifying as he was clearly unhappy, and I am certainly pleased with the result those changes brought. It was impressive.”