Sebastian Vettel believes it would have been “very difficult” to deny Ferrari Formula 1 teammate Charles Leclerc pole position in Bahrain even with an ideal lap in Saturday’s qualifying session.

Leclerc charged to his first F1 pole after topping all three stages of qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit, heading up a front row lock-out for Ferrari.

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Vettel could only qualify two-tenths of a second behind his teammate in P2, having lost one of his shots at pole after being forced into using an extra set of tyres earlier in Q2.

But Vettel doubted he could have beaten Leclerc’s pole time – a new lap record in Bahrain – even if he had strung together his final effort in Q3.

“It’s his day at the end of the day,” Vettel said. “Certainly my day was not ideal, but even with an ideal lap would be very difficult to beat him today, so well done.

“My first pole was a while ago! But certainly it’s a day that you never forget.”

Ferrari’s front row lock-out came just two weeks after the team had finished almost a minute behind Mercedes at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, marking a rapid change in fortunes.

Vettel heaped praise on the Ferrari crew members for their efforts in getting to the bottom of the issues that left them off the pace in Australia, with the qualifying result continuing the team’s clean sweep of one-two finishes through the Bahrain weekend.

“We are both much happier with the car this weekend. I think the credit really goes to the team, because it’s a team effort,” Vettel said.

“Both of us, we didn’t feel very happy with the car in Melbourne, and the team has done very hard work trying to understand why.

“I think we had some answers coming here, obviously proving today we are capable of running at the front and fighting for pole.

“Locking out the front row for Ferrari is a great testament to their work.”

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