Chinese GP Qualifying: Vettel on pole as Hamilton struggles to fourth

With AP Photos.Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari will be on pole position for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix as he looks for his third straight victory to start the season.

Vettel had his quickest time on his final qualifying lap, clocking 1 minute, 31.095 seconds on the 5.45-kilometer (3.39-mile) course to edge out Raikkonen.

Mercedes has been at the front of the grid for the last six Chinese Grands Prix, with Hamilton himself on pole for four of those occasions.

He says Mercedes will use the dominant pace it showed at the season-opener in Melbourne as a pointer to the car's potential, and methodically come up with solutions rather than panicking.

However, he might still be viewed as a favorite on Sunday despite missing pole position.

Red Bull's vehicle came alive in the second half of the race after the team pitted both cars for fresh tyres under a Safety auto period. His only close call came in a near-miss incident with Max Verstappen and when Daniel Ricciardo put a move on him.

Vettel has only once won the Chinese GP before in 2009 for Red Bull, while Ferrari have not been victorious in Shanghai since Fernando Alonso took the flag in 2013.

The Briton, second in Australia and third in Bahrain, had gone into the weekend determined to claw back at least some of his deficit to the German at a track that Mercedes have dominated in recent years.

"I've seen the forecast, but you never know", Vettel said.

"I don't think I necessarily need to change a lot of things, it's just I need to learn from what happened today", he added. The auto was unbelievable and it just got better. Romain Grosjean took the 10th spot and was just 0.036s behind Sainz's Renault.

"I lost the rear of the vehicle on my first lap so I was a bit beaten up, but I know if I get a tidy lap and have a bit of magic I could push it". When Lewis arrives at Shanghai airport in Pudong and goes into the main arrival hall, it's like the Beatles are arriving! As a result, world champion Lewis Hamilton will start a distant fourth after losing out to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0,7016.

"They were just too fast on the fresh tyres so I didn't want to compromise my race to the guys behind but then obviously he did a mistake, he locked up, which happens". The Ferrari proved more forgiving in switching on its tyres and maintaining their grip, whereas Mercedes lacked temperature in their rubber.

Vettel, who finished second in Shanghai a year ago, has five career podium finishes at this race but his only win came all the way back in 2009, so don't be surprised if Hamilton and Mercedes get back to their winning ways this weekend.

  • Stacy Allen