BAKU – Sebastian Vettel feared he had messed up his bid for pole position by making an error as he became over excited during Saturday’s qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Ferrari's world championship-leader said he was "a bit greedy" on his final run while his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen cursed himself for a "painful" error that cost him pole.
Vettel was on top ahead of defending champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes as they began their final flying runs.
Then, he said, he tried too hard to improve his lap and locked up at Turn Three and had to abandon his lap. He took pole with his earlier fastest lap.
"I was happy with my first run and then in the second run I felt the car was on fire straight away – I was feeling faster and set for it.
"I think I got a bit too excited for Turn Three and tried to brake later, quite a bit later, than the laps before and then I had a lockup when I hit the bumps and my front left tyre was flat spotted.
"I was quite upset at the time in the car because I burned my shot at an improvement – and I didn't know what was going on around me.
"When I then aborted the lap and came in I was told 'pole position', so I was quite happy – really happy.
"The team has done well, we changed the car again overnight and found even more performance."
Raikkonen lamented an error that cost him pole.
The Finn was two-tenths faster than Vettel on his final lap until he had a big slide at the exit of Turn 16. He ended up sixth.
"Obviously it was a f***-up," he said. "A mistake. It cost us quite a few places so – not the greatest end.
"I don't know, it just got sideways. I got it back, but I knew already it was all gone because it's flat out and a long straight after that."
He added: "I've been a few times disappointed. This is a different story and today, what can you do? I can only look in the mirror. It's painful."
In the Mercedes garage Hamilton praised his mechanics who changed "pretty much everything" on his car to improve the performance from practice Friday to grab second in qualifying Saturday.
The Briton said: "We were struggling yesterday, but the engineers did some really great work last night to understand where we were and how we could progress forward.
"Thank you to them for their hard work. It was a much more reasonable car.
"There were still areas where we were lacking, but it's a work in progress, and to be that close to Ferrari is definitely a positive."
Asked what the team changed on the car, he said: “Pretty much everything! We did a lot of work, a lot of changes!
Hamilton congratulated Vettel on gaining his third straight pole.
"He did a great job today and Ferrari have been so dominant in the last few races, pace-wise. We knew they would be quick here and they have been all weekend.
"But we are in the mix now and I aim to make things uncomfortable for him in the race."