Sebastian Vettel says he was "surprised" by Ferrari’s competitiveness as he stormed to pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The German claimed Ferrari’s first pole at the Bahrain International Circuit in 11 years as he led a Scuderia one-two from Kimi Raikkonen under the lights in Sakhir, with the Italian squad nearly two tenths of a second clear of rivals Mercedes. 

Vettel - the early championship leader after winning the season-opener in Australia - insisted it was a “no-brainer” that Mercedes had the quickest car heading into the second race of the season in Bahrain, but hailed his team’s progress. 

“It’s surprising for us to be that competitive after Australia,” Vettel admitted. “Obviously I think we have good pace, the car is working. In Australia I think we struggled a little bit with the feel for the car, I think here it’s been better. 

“We improved a little bit working with the car. In the beginning of the season it’s always difficult because we don’t know yet the car that well. It’s getting better, obviously today was quite nice and the car came alive.”

Vettel had lagged behind teammate Raikkonen throughout the weekend and made a mistake on his first Q3 run as he ran wide at the final corner, but the four-time world champion recovered to snatch pole with a last-gasp effort.

“I felt quite good right from the start and I knew that I can pick progress throughout the session. Q3 that’s when I wanted it to peak and I think I peaked in the first run just before the last corner when I wanted it a bit too much. 

“I knew I had it in me and basically it was a bit copy paste the final lap I had, but the final corner I managed to stay away from the kerb. I’m very happy with both laps in the end. Happy obviously with the result, the car, the way the car was handling and responding. So yeah, chuffed.”

 

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