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Sebastian Vettel has conceded he didn't expect to see such a wide margin between Mercedes and Ferrari at the end of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix but still retains confidence it has a more comparable race package.

The German came into qualifying on the back foot after an engine problem in FP3 necessitated a full power unit change between the sessions, the second time Ferrari has been forced to do so after a similar issue in Spain.

Nevertheless, Ferrari had no answer to Mercedes when it came to single lap performance, with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas dominating all three sessions to leave both Kimi Raikkonen in third and Vettel in fourth more than a second adrift of pole.

With Vettel refusing to blame the interference of the engine problem, though he was surprised to see such a differential in performance he believes Ferrari will be closer in the race.

"I don't want to look for excuses. We were not quick enough, I think the gap to Mercedes in front is bigger than anyone expected. For us and also Red Bull we looked we could match all weekend long but I think overall they probably felt more confident and found more in the car. They have a one second advantage but I don't think they will tomorrow...

"I think it's one of the tracks where you need to have the car in the window and tyres in the window, and then, if you feel confident, you extract a lot of lap time as well.

"I'm not too bothered by the gap, it's not nice but I'm equally not worried. The car was very good yesterday and in the long run we looked very competitive. We should be fine."

With Raikkonen getting the better of Vettel on this occasion, Vettel batted away the suggestion he will need to call upon team orders should Mercedes escape at the front.

"We are racing our race. The race is long here, overtaking is possible when you have a long straight. It is pointless to talk about ifs now."

 

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