Sebastian Vettel has admitted he believed Mercedes were hiding their true pace during practice, but it became clear as the German sailed to pole position by more than a second that the Mercedes team were genuinely struggling.
Lewis Hamilton will start fifth whilst team-mate Nico Rosberg starts sixth, ending a run of seven consecutive poles for Hamilton.
Speaking after securing his first pole for Ferrari and the teams first since 2012, Vettel said: “It’s a surprise – I thought they [Mercedes] were sandbagging yesterday, also this morning.
“There is no doubt they have the strongest package this year – they must have some issues, that’s the only explanation.
“But I wouldn’t rule them out tomorrow. I’m sure Mercedes will be quick.”
Whilst he expects a strong Mercedes in the race, he seems confident of victory due to the nature of the circuit which makes overtaking difficult, but not impossible.
“It’s not the easiest circuit to overtake on but if you have the pace eventually you come through. I expect them to be strong.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who starts second, was also skeptical of Mercedes’ pace on Friday saying he believed they were “fooling everyone”, but admitted to surprise on Saturday evening.
“Qualifying was exciting, to have no Mercedes up here is a surprise to everyone.
“I thought they were playing a few card games yesterday but it seems they are not particularly comfortable here this weekend.
“It’s a bit of a surprise – and it’s good to capitalise on that.”