Sebastian Vettel said his first pole position of the 2012 Formula 1 season was a tribute to his Red Bull team's efforts to get back on the pace after a tough start to the season.
Red Bull and Vettel dominated the 2011 campaign, but had struggled to match McLaren – and at times, Mercedes as well – in the opening three rounds this year. The team had looked more competitive all weekend in Bahrain, and Vettel underlined this by returning to pole position, while his team-mate Mark Webber secured third.
"It feels great and this one I will give to the team and the guys," said Vettel. "It wasn't an easy start to the season for us – surely a lot of expectations but more than anything it was what we expect from ourselves. It did not match our expectation.
"We worked hard on the car, trimming here and there to find the right way forward. The boys did not have much sleep the last few races – a tough race in China and here a serious lack of sleep, so I'm happy to be on pole.
"Both of us owe the result to the team. The car felt better all weekend. I did not have the best early part of qualifying in Q1 and Q2, but knew when I got lap in we could nail it, so I am very happy."
Vettel had reverted to an older-specification exhaust package as a one-off experiment in China, which he said had been a valuable element in getting back on the pace this weekend.
"The balance I had in particular in the first two races, I was not happy [with], so we decided in China to go back and see where we were, and Mark wanted to carry on [with the newer package]," said Vettel. "It was good to get a straight comparison. We found the new car and new package, and old package has its advantages. We ended up with the new car. I think it helped us going into this weekend, trying to set up the car, working with the tires, which seems to be tricky this year. So we have felt a bit happier all around."
The reigning champion added that he expects Red Bull to be stronger still in the race.
"I think it is always tough, the race here is long and a lot of things can happen," said Vettel. "We are pretty aggressive and we should be better off in the race.
"Race pace has proven to be pretty consistent in the last couple of races. At this one I am definitely happier with how the car feels."