Kimi Raikkonen has no explanation for losing Chinese Grand Prix pole position to Ferrari Formula 1 teammate Sebastian Vettel at the last moment in qualifying.

Raikkonen was quicker than Vettel in Q2, on provisional pole after the first runs in Q3 and posted the fastest first and second sectors of the session on his final lap.

The Finn failed to improve in the final sector and only marginally lowered his best time, while Vettel was able to overturn the deficit from the first two sectors and snatch pole by less than a tenth.

What happened in the final sector, Raikkonen said: “Nothing really happened. I lost some time, but I don’t know. It wasn’t like I did some big mistake.”

He added: “It was close to Vettel, close enough to make a difference. Not ideal. Tomorrow’s the day, we’ll see what happens.”

After lost of 0.161s from Raikkonen on the first runs Vettel said he knew he would be able to make a decent improvement.

He was “too keen” exiting Turns 3 and 6 on that lap but said the car had been “unbelievable” throughout qualifying and peaked in Q3.

“Right from the first lap in the first part of qualifying I was really happy,” he said. “We didn’t really do much on the car, I didn’t have to fight to find the right set-up. Usually you change quite a lot.

“I knew I had a bit more and the last lap I got it all together.”

Valtteri Bottas qualified the best of the Mercedes third, more than half a second off the pace.

Vettel said the gap was a surprise but expects a “long, tough race” between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull , which was slightly slower than Mercedes and locked out the third row.

“To have that much of a gap is a surprise,” said Vettel. “It’s also a track where you need to find that sweet spot and if you are a little bit out you easily drop a little bit of time.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow that gap disappears and it’s a very tight race. Obviously I wouldn’t mind if it stays there but I think it will be a tight race among the top three teams.”