Daniel Ricciardo labelled fourth on the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix "a nice surprise" and admitted it was "weird" to see Red Bull take a big chunk out of its gap to the front.
Ricciardo split the Ferraris in Sahkir, the first time Red Bull has managed to qualify ahead of the Italian team in 2017. He finished 0.776s off Valtteri Bottas' pole time, down from a gap of 1.4s to the front after qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend.
When asked if he had needed the perfect lap to drag Red Bull above a Ferrari, Ricciardo replied: "Not perfect, no. I felt it was a good lap for what I had. But not perfect."
Given Red Bull's current deficit to the front, Ricciardo had been expecting to be locked in a private battle with teammate Max Verstappen over which side of the third row they would start on.
"I didn't feel like I had as much grip as I was expecting in Q3. I thought the track would have ramped up a bit more. Yeah we went quicker but for me I thought it would have been still a bit more. So I was surprised to be fourth.
"When I crossed the line I was like eeeerhhhh.... I know Max had done a .6 and knew my lap then was a .5, so I was like 'it will be close with Max'. But then when Simon [Rennie, race engineer] said I am P4, I was a bit confused. But it was nice."
Ricciardo then joked about his crash during qualifying in Australia when asked why it was the best qualifying display of the year: "I didn't spin! I stayed on the track, that helped.
"And then I don't know, it is weird because we came here and it is week since the last race and there is not that much we could have put on the car. There are little bits here and there but there is nothing on the car which meant half a second closer to pole. I think that is what the gap is. Half a second less than it was last week.
"My happiness with the balance was probably no better than it was in China. You look at the lap times and sure I am happy, but I don't feel like the grip is massively bigger than we had a week ago. At the same time I do feel that we have learned more than last week. We have learned more what not to do. But I didn't feel what we have learned had translated into half a second. So that is a nice surprise."