Vettel: Third place the maximum for Ferrari in qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel remained upbeat after qualifying in third place for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix, believing that it was the best possible result for Ferrari given Mercedes’ pace in Shanghai.

Lewis Hamilton led home Nico Rosberg in qualifying to lock out the front row for Mercedes as Vettel finished nine-tenths of a second off pole position.

Following his surprise victory in Malaysia, many had expected Vettel to pose a stiffer challenge to the Mercedes drivers, but he felt that third was all that was possible on Saturday.

“First of all I’m happy with today I guess,” Vettel said. “It was a different strategy we had in Q3, going only once on a new set.

“Obviously these guys were a bit quicker than we expected to be honest, but I think we got everything right, and P3 was our maximum today.”

Vettel believes that Ferrari’s race pace should see it move closer to Mercedes on Sunday in China, and he is relishing the prospect of another fight with Hamilton and Rosberg.

“For tomorrow, I think we should be a bit closer,” Vettel said. “How close? We will find out. I’m definitely looking forward to going racing and to go race them tomorrow.

“It’s not very far to turn one, so I guess that’s fairly straightforward. It’s a long race. Tires are very important here, so obviously we’ll try to do well and get a lot of points.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET tomorrow.