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Formula 1 Bahrain GP

Vettel: Sorting front end key to "surprising" Bahrain pole

Sebastian Vettel says an improved set-up to give him more confidence with the front end of his Ferrari was key to his "surprising" pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Polesitter Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Polesitter Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Polesitter Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09

With Vettel having admitted after the season opener in Australia that his team still needs to make big steps with its SF71H, rival Mercedes had come into the Sakhir weekend as favourite.

However, thanks to some key steps made to improve his feel of the car, Vettel says that getting on top of the balance helped things "come alive" to deliver an all Ferrari front row.

"We mostly tried to work on the set-up, and understanding the car," he said. "We tried different things, but obviously on a weekend you don't have much time.

"In Australia the first race, on a tricky track, it is improving a lot through the weekend, and it is very bumpy, so it is difficult to change too much and draw conclusions.

"But after the weekend, after the race distance, when you have so many laps. I had a very good understanding and feel, and we have been talking about it and looking into it.

"Overall I have been happier this weekend with how the car has been responding and how the front end is responding. 

"You also see it in the result, but I think the good news is that we are a lot closer in all the conditions, if you look at all the sessions. That is the only difference – for the rest it is the same car as Australia."

He added: "I think it is surprising for us after Australia to be that competitive."

How they line up for the Bahrain GP...

Mercedes struggles

Although Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas missed a place on the front row by just two hundredths of a second, the Finn says that his team is a bit baffled about why Ferrari has had the edge this weekend.

"I agree we are not having the pace this weekend that we expected coming here, but we also didn't have anything new since Melbourne," said the Finn.

"It is a very different circuit, different tarmac, different temperatures, so for sure we need to understand completely why.

"We are struggling a little bit with overheating issues with the tyres, less so in the evening sessions, but still we have work to do.

"Like we have been saying all through the beginning of the season, we are not miles away. Ferrari this weekend so far has been a quicker car and that is where we are.

"We were better in Australia and we need to understand why we were not quickest today, but for sure we still have tomorrow to see how the pace is."

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