Sebastian Vettel beat teammate Kimi Raikkonen to pole position by just 0.087s as Ferrari put in a dominant qualifying performance at the Chinese Grand Prix. He believes he had the faster auto, but couldn't run close enough to Bottas to make the pass.
Red Bull's pitwall and tacticians are levels above any other team on the grid and this was highlighted in the late call to pit when the safety auto was deployed on lap 31.
"I don't know if we can challenge, we're half a second behind today", the Briton told Sky Sports TV after aborting his final flying lap and taking fourth place on the grid with team-mate Valtteri Bottas in third.
"For some reason their vehicle is working everywhere".
"Then the race wasn't frozen, either".
The Dutchman suffered a puncture last weekend which forced him to withdraw from the race, but in China he was able to continue after his and Vettel's cars span across the track.
"After that obviously it was clear that the Red Bulls were faster".
"I had no intention to withstand that there wasn't any goal doing so as nicely because it had been clear using Daniel".
"It is very unfortunate those things happening and I need to analyse everything and try to come back stronger for the next races". He wasn't there, so then you stay in front.
After retiring on the first lap in Bahrain, the 19-year-old looked to have returned to his blistering form of old when surging into fourth place on lap 39.
When asked how he felt his pace was compared to Vettel before the Safety Car was deployed, Bottas said: "It felt like everything was under control and I had no major drop off in the end". I think he realized that he did a mistake. We go again tomorrow and see what we can do.
"I could see he was struggling on the tyres and tried to brake late in the corners", said the Red Bull driver. He was quite [devastated] and realized that he messed up. People were asking if it was a question of age, but it's not. "That can happen in racing".
"With the other tyre choice we were also in good shape, but of course here quite often the safety auto comes out and we reacted at the same time", he said. But, yeah, it happens.
"But I appreciate the fact that he came straight away. I told him that was the way to solve it, face to face and not through the media or blowing something up". I have no problem. At the moment it is not going the way I like of course, but does it mean I have to calm down? "I tried to get the auto back in the best possible position and calm down".