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Sebastian Vettel says he was surprised by the advantage he held over his rivals in the final phase of qualifying at Sepang on Saturday, with the Red Bull driver producing a personal best time almost one second faster than Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
Vettel, who had struggled for pace in the opening two sessions, ultimately took pole position with a time of 1:49.674 when the rain arrived, citing his decision to pit for a fresh set of Intermediate tyres as a key factor in his dominant performance.
"I think it was generally quite an interesting qualifying session," Vettel explained in the post-qualifying press conference. "We knew rain was on the way; we expected some at the beginning but it didn't come. Q2 was quite on the edge for me, but the rain helped a little bit and it was just enough to get into Q3.
"Then in Q3, with the circuit drying, it was clear that it was better to change the tyres. I think we did the right thing, but it was very tricky as you didn't know if more rain was coming. I'm surprised by the gap - it's a very good session for us. I think we managed to save some tyres, too, which could be crucial tomorrow."
While Vettel claimed pole position, team-mate Mark Webber struggled to fifth on the grid, with the Australian opting to remain on one set of tyres for the entirety of Q3.
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