Sebastian Vettel said his Ferrari was “phenomenal” in Russia on Saturday after he and Kimi Raikkonen beat Mercedes to the front row spots in Russia.
Ferrari had been fast all weekend but, after Valtteri Bottas topped Q2, it looked like Mercedes might grab pole after all, but in the end Ferrari got the job done, with Vettel beating the time set by Raikkonen on the first runs of Q3.
“I think the car was phenomenal this afternoon,” said Vettel. “It’s really a pleasure to take a seat and go around with low fuel and just try and push it to the limit. If you have a rhythm here it feels fantastic, so glad I got it back and big thanks to the team. It’s a team effort and it’s a great result to have both cars on the front row.
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“But it’s only part of the job, the main job is obviously tomorrow but for now it’s an important step. We managed to improve a little bit. Maybe the circuit came our way as well, but it’s a very good result and I’m sure everybody is very happy and very proud so we’ll enjoy that but in a couple of hours we’ll start focusing on the race.”
Vettel was cautious when asked if the result mean that Ferrari is back.
“From where? I think if you look at the first three races then I think we had a good start to the season. Obviously in qualifying Mercedes has been very, very strong. As I touched on, maybe the track, maybe how we handled the tires, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter in the end; we are in front which is a good thing.
“As I said, it’s a great achievement. We managed to improve the car a little bit for this race. It will be very close tomorrow, especially over a long run. Valtteri had good pace yesterday. We’ll see. But as I said, for now we’re full of joy. We’re very happy that we’re back – at least if you talk about the front row for Saturday and obviously we’ll try and take the momentum into the race tomorrow.”
Asked how much the venue suited the Ferrari, he said: “I think the track, the corners, the layout, is not bad for us, for sure. I think last year we were very strong here. If you look at the performance in sector two it was strong here last year, it was very strong. Obviously it’s completely different but still, some stuff you can compare and we were strong last year, strong this year.
“As I said, I don’t know how much Mercedes were struggling or not but, to be honest, I don’t really care. It’s more important for us that we do what we need to do and we didn’t have any problems. We had smooth sessions so far this weekend and, as I said, the car felt really good. I think it’s a track where it’s important to have the trust in the car, so you can sort of let go and attack.
He admitted he was pleased to have team mate Raikkonen riding shotgun on the grid.
“Well, if I could choose I would put Kimi alongside and I think he would say the same. But I think for the team it’s a great day today. Mercedes has been very, very dominant the last years in qualifying, so it’s good to get there, get closer. It was again very close with Valtteri.
“I don’t know his last lap but the Q2 lap and his first lap in Q3 was very, very strong. I think it’s been a mega qualifying. The car was really nice to drive and it’s a track when the car comes alive it’s really pleasant.”