Maybe I chickened out - Vettel regrets braking early after Hamilton takes pole

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Sebastian Vettel regretted applying the brakes too early as he was pipped to pole at the Chinese Grand Prix by Lewis Hamilton in qualifying on Saturday.

Ferrari driver Vettel came in 0.186 seconds behind Mercedes' Hamilton in Q3 but edged out the Brit's team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.001secs to secure a place on the front row.

The four-time world champion, who won the opening grand prix of the year in Australia, was delighted to have qualified second, though he felt he could have got closer to taking pole.

Vettel said: "We'll see tomorrow [Sunday] how important it was. It was a nice session; I enjoyed it a lot.

"I think if we could have been a bit quicker at the end I would have enjoyed it a bit more. I think I was very happy with the lap I had.

"Last corner maybe I lost a little bit - maybe I 'chickened' onto the brakes a bit too soon. Obviously it was very close with Valtteri, good job we got just enough margin to make it to the front row."

With single teams dominating Formula One for the past eight seasons, Vettel is relishing a potential fight between Ferrari and Mercedes for glory in 2017.

However, the German is keen not to get ahead of himself too early in the campaign.

"Well, it's been a while so yeah, I think we're on a good way. Obviously it's a lot of fun when you fight for poles and wins," said Vettel.

"Certainly enjoyed Australia a lot, despite the outcome on Sunday which obviously was fantastic - but in general, to be able to fight at the front for the podium, and really fight for it is a great feeling.

"It's the same here. You go into the weekend and... we didn't really have much expectation because it's a completely different track but on the other hand we did know that our car is working well.

"So, just need to keep it up. Need to try to improve it whenever we can. So overall, I can only give it back, and hopefully there's a lot more for the rest of the season.

"But this is only race two. A lot of things can happen but we need to obviously give everything we have to stay there."