Sebastian Vettel put his season back on track by taking his first pole after a strong performance in Bahrain saw him trounce Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel has however used two sets of prime tyres when others have used one, and that may be something of a compromise come the race, when every lap on fresher rubber will count.
“I felt much happier with the car all weekend,” said Vettel. “I went out and I think we’ve always had the ability to go reasonably quick. Surely it depends a little bit when and where you are, which tyres etc., but I had a good feeling all throughout the weekend, and I’m very happy.
“I knew in qualifying we should be able to put the car higher up this time in qualifying. Q1 and Q2 wasn’t perfect, the laps I got in were not 100 per cent without mistakes and I knew in the third qualifying that getting everything together we should be in a better place.
“First run I obviously ran the set I scrubbed in Q2, wasn’t ideal, so I knew that with a new tyre there was a little bit again to gain and it did happen, so I’m very happy, very pleased and extremely happy for the team because the guys have done incredible lately.
“Four races so far but the last two weekends in particular, here and China, I don’t know how they managed, how they do it. They get hardly any sleep, probably an hour or two or three on average every night and still they’re full of energy and willing to work even harder – and I think we owe the result to those guys it the garage today.”
Vettel said the that Chinese experiment – where he ran the old spec exhaust and Webber had the new one – was very useful. This weekend they both have the newer exhaust, although there are still some small difference in the two packages. In essence the new exhaust gives more of a benefit on corner exits, and Vettel has accepted that it is the faster route to take.
“I think given the balance we had – or I had in particular – the first two races where I wasn’t happy, we decided in China to go back and see where we are. Equally, Mark carried on, which I think was good to get a straight comparison. And we found that the new car, or new package, has its advantages and the old package has its advantages and I think it was good to get an answer on that.
“So, we ended up with two cars, either one probably strong in a certain area so I think it helped us also going into this weekend trying to set up the car, working with the tyres, which seem to be tricky this year. We felt a little bit happier all around, also given the high temperatures here, which is not making life easier.”
Vettel admitted that the first pole of the season had come as a relief.
“We’ve got a very good result today and I’m very happy. Of course I’m happy to be on pole for tomorrow’s race. For sure it feels good but zero points scored so far as the race is tomorrow. I think we are only a couple of races into the season, as I’ve mentioned many times now because I’ve had the same questions.
“We didn’t have the start that maybe we expected and people probably expected of us, but since day one, where we realised that maybe we weren’t as strong as we wanted to be, we’ve worked very, very hard and this is step one towards the right direction so we keep fighting and keep working hard to make sure that the results similar to today come more often again.”