"Maybe we didn't get the tyres absolutely flawless for the lap but I don't think it would have been enough for us to beat the Ferraris", he said. "Thank you guys, great qualifying, great vehicle", said Vettel, who also started the last race in Bahrain from pole, over the team radio.
Raikkonen was quicker though the first two sectors on the final runs in qualifying before losing the time to Vettel in the last part of the lap, and while the Finn is unsure where he specifically lost out he believes the pace on Saturday bodes well for the race. I was beating myself up but I knew if I had a better lap I could do it'.
"Yes, we are [surprised]", Vettel said. By contrast, Hamilton was only fifth after an error-strewn session that ended with the Briton a second off Vettel's pace. "We started the weekend positively in practice, but the vehicle went away from us today". I just haven't had the pace since yesterday and I struggled with the auto.
"I mean he could have taken his front wing off, had a puncture, whatever, then it's game over for both of us".
Race leader Valletri Bottas, in the Mercedes, and championship leader Sebastian Vettel had just passed the pitlane when the safety vehicle came out and were forced to go to the end on their sets of soft tyres. "That would not be the right mindset", he said.
"The vehicle felt okay, but I don't have an answer for it". "The amusing thing about being outperformed on Saturday is that you are the lion that is just waiting to jump on its prey".
"Obviously that was really close".
"We definitely have work to do", Bottas said. "That will be fun". "It is a track where you just need to get in and find that sweet spot".
"I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow that gap disappears and it's a very tight race". They should be able to respond with a good result considering they've had three double top-five finishes in the last four races here, but the pressure is undoubtedly on after such a shaky start to the season.
Carlos Sainz Jr says those starting on ultrasofts have locked themselves into a two-stop strategy, so the Red Bulls, the Renaults, Romain Grosjean's Haas and Sergio Perez's Force India are all compromised strategically compared to rivals starting outside the top 10.