Sebastian Vettel swallowed his pride and heaped praise on Lewis Hamilton on Saturday after the Briton outpaced him to take pole in the final minutes of qualifying for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old defending triple world champion had looked unbeatable with his best lap for Red Bull until the Briton in his Mercedes delivered a stunning late effort to grab his third pole in a row.
And afterwards, Vettel reacted testily to suggestions that he could have done more to make sure he had taken pole for Sunday's 70-laps race.
German Vettel said: "At the end of the day I was pretty happy with my lap, but it was just not quick enough. Obviously, Mercedes have a very strong pace in qualifying and I think Lewis did an exceptional job today.
"If you look at the gap to Nico.... You have to be fair and respect that. I'm not arguing with that." Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg qualified a strong fourth, but could not match Hamilton's pace.
Vettel said there was nothing wrong with his own efforts.
"There wasn't much missing. I was pretty happy with both laps," he said.
"Maybe on the second try I was losing out a little bit in the middle sector. It's very twisty and there's a lot of corners in a short amount of time, and maybe I wasn't aggressive enough there.
"But it's stupid now to sit here and say maybe we should've done this or that...
"Mercedes have good pace in qualifying so you have to be fair and respect that. I would have loved to have been a little bit faster and on pole, but we have a good car and in a good position.
"We should have a good race and I am quite confident. Surely I would love to be a little bit faster and on pole, but it still puts us in a great place for tomorrow -- we have a good car and good pace for the race."