Sebastian Vettel looked on course to grab pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix, only to lose out to Lewis Hamilton in Q3.
Vettel and his team mate Kimi Raikkonen had topped Saturday morning practice and both of the earlier rounds of qualifying. However when it came to the pole shoot-out, he just didn't have enough to stay ahead of Hamilton.
"It was a nice session, I enjoyed it a lot," Vettel insisted after qualifying ended. "If we could have been a bit quicker at the end I would have enjoyed it more!
"I was very happy with the lap I had," he added. "The last corner maybe I lost a little bit - maybe chickened onto the brakes a bit too soon."
It turned out that Vettel was very lucky to keep hold off his front row starting position for Sunday's race in Shanghai. Valtteri Bottas's lap came within one thousandth of a second of ousting Vettel and making it an all-Mercedes affair.
"Obviously it was very close with Valtteri so good job we just got enough margin to make it to the front row," admitted Vettel. "We'll see tomorrow how important it was."
Vettel rebuffed suggestions that Mercedes had the better qualifying car in 2017, while Ferrari might have the edge in race conditions.
"I think our car is strong no matter what," he said. "It obviously depends what these guys are doing.
"Certainly we've seen in previous years that in qualie they're really able to get on top of what they have. I think we can still improve."
"Let's see what the race looks like tomorrow," he added.
"Conditions I think will be quite different - maybe we should put fuel in the car and race now. I don't know what happens tomorrow!"