Raikkonen and Vettel qualify third and fourth despite Hamilton's retirement; Ricciardo in between Ferrari duo and Rosberg
Saturday 16 April 2016 13:46, UK
Ferrari "missed an open goal" by failing to secure a place on the front row in Chinese GP qualifying, according to Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle.
After Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire early from the session due to Mercedes power unit problems, the door was wide open for both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel to battle Nico Rosberg in Shanghai.
However, both Scuderia drivers made mistakes on their final laps in Q3 and Rosberg was able to secure his first pole of 2016, with Daniel Ricciardo claiming a surprise second place in the Red Bull.
"Ferrari have missed an open goal, haven't they?," Brundle said, as Raikkonen and Vettel had to settle for third and fourth. "Hamilton retired with a technical issue and they're not even on the front row of the grid."
Their pace seemed to be strong in Q1 and Q2 too before costly errors in the last few minutes of qualifying. To make matters worse, Rosberg will start Sunday's grand prix on the longer-lasting soft tyre.
Raikkonen was as frustrated as ever after his mistake at the final hairpin, claiming he could have grabbed his first pole since 2008.
"On the previous run, at the same corner, I ran very deep, too deep," he said. "The last one I was quite a bit up on that lap but I ran wide on the hairpin and obviously lost a lot of time.
"It's a shame, we had a chance to be on top today but that's how it goes. We'll try and make the best out of it tomorrow."
Mercedes fitted Rosberg with the softer compound in Q2 and comfortably made it through and are now able to outlast their rivals on the first stint in the race.
Toto Wolff admitted he was surprised by Ferrari's strategy to keep the supersofts on, though Raikkonen and Vettel have both lasted much longer on the red compound than others over the weekend.
The difference in strategy makes for a compelling race and Vettel, who waited until the last moment to set his only flying lap in Q3, said a great start and tyre wear could change everything for the Italian outfit.
"I made couple of small mistakes here and there which cost me quite a lot of time," he told Sky F1. "But let's see how we start - the last one was very good. I'm confident.
"Hopefully it works out tomorrow. The first stint will be interesting to see how the tyres behave. We took a gamble today but unfortunately my lap wasn't good enough."
Rosberg is also cautious as he looks to make it six consecutive race victories, adding: "I don't believe the gap is as big as it seemed on the timesheet today.
"On Friday the Ferraris were on the same level as us, so we must be prepared for a strong challenge from the red cars. In the race we could see some surprises."
Watch the Chinese GP on Sunday - LIVE ONLY on Sky Sports F1. The race starts at 7am, with build-up underway from 5.30am. Or watch without a contract for £6.99 on NOW TV.