In a thrilling qualifying session to the Chinese GP, Sebastian Vettel went on to claim the second position on the grid to reaffirm Ferrari’s constantly improving pace after he won the season-opening Australian GP.
268 and 186 thousands of a second. Those were the margins between the pole position and the second place in the qualifying for the Australian and the Chinese GP respectively. The protagonists were, however, identical. Lewis Hamilton grabbed the pole both times from his fierce rival Sebastian Vettel.
A year ago, Ferrari were 838 thousands of a second adrift to Mercedes in Melbourne while the Italians’ deficit in Shanghai was exactly 570 thousands of a second. Considering those numbers and Sebastian Vettel’s commanding victory a fortnight ago, Ferrari’s incredible turnaround of form give the fans real hope that 2017 could bring a sensational battle between two different teams after Mercedes’s full control in the last three years.
“It was a bit closer than in Australia, so a good session overall with lots of chances for tomorrow. We’ll see what the race can bring, with the different conditions and everything. Of course I would have liked to be even closer, knowing that the Mercedes would be very strong in Q3, as they proved to be.”
The Heppenheim-born conceded he was a bit too cautious coming into the last corner, but said he could not have beaten the pole time even without that tiny mistake.
“We had some luck with Valtteri, because when you’re a thousand of a second apart, it could be one way or the other. I was happy with my lap, even if I braked a bit too early for the last corner, hit the kerb hard and had to wait for the car to settle. That’s where I lost a bit of time, but not all the gap to Lewis. There wasn’t much more I could have gained.
Vettel’s biggest joy was the fact that Ferrari could confirm its form on the third very different track considering also the aero-dependent Barcelona circuit where teams conducted plenty of mileages during February and early March.
“So this result on a totally different track, with conditions significantly cooler than Melbourne, is definitely good news. The confidence is there, I trust what the car is telling me and she seems to respond to what I tell her. It’s a good match but we need to improve further,” concluded the quadruple world champion.