Sebastian Vettel does not believe he could have challenged Lewis Hamilton for Australian Grand Prix pole position despite losing time on his qualifying lap.
Vettel lapped 0.268 seconds slower than Hamilton during qualifying, which was enough to relegate the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas for third.
But although Vettel admitted that he lost a little time on his final Q3 lap at Turn 1 and Turn 9, saying over the radio after his lap that he "tried a bit too hard, that wasn't enough to cover the deficit.
"In the end, I was not entirely happy with the lap, pretty happy in the end but not the bit where I lost too much," said Vettel.
"I would have loved to, but I don't think pole was up for grabs.
"Qualifying on the first row is a very good opening to a long, long season."
Vettel was also pleased with the improvement Ferrari has made since Friday practice, when he wasn't completely happy with the balance of the car.
He's optimistic this means Ferrari's race pace will be stronger, and hinted it might be possible to threaten Hamilton.
"I think we can do something in the race, the pace would be much better than yesterday," said Vettel.
"It has been a big winter for us, a lot of change, the team has got stronger.
"People [at Ferrari] are fired up and motivated for tomorrow, it is a good opportunity."
Hamilton also admitted his pole position lap was not perfect, but he was happy to have had such a strong qualifying session after a difficult run in free practice three earlier in the day.
"It definitely didn't start out the best day for me," said Hamilton.
"I've been feeling great all week and feeling like [it was] a bit of an off-day, but in qualifying it it felt a lot better.
"We can always try to improve, laps are never perfect, there is a little bit of time here of there, but it puts us in great stead for tomorrow."
Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas said he "didn't meet those [expectations]" that he had for qualifying after lapping almost three-tenths slower than Hamilton.