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Chinese Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole with track record

Chinese Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole with track record

Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's race from fourth place on the grid, which is not where the reigning champion expected to be.

"I mean he could have easily taken his front wing off, get a puncture, whatever, then it's game over for both of us".

"I didn't see him until very late", said Vettel.

Raikkonen blitzed the first two sectors but Vettel was just 0.098s adrift and when the Iceman lost time in the final sector, his team mate made no mistake to snatch pole position by just 0.087s and set a new track record.

Vettel, who holds a 17-point lead over Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton after winning in Australia and Bahrain, is looking good for a hat-trick.

With Mercedes struggling to mount a challenge - Bottas and Hamilton were evenly matched but nearly half a second down the order - the battle for P1 came down to the red-suited drivers. 'Today just went away from us, Ferrari upped their pace throughout the weekend, probably not showing their true pace yesterday.

"We just need to have pace". The Silver Arrows pair were half a second slower than Ferrari in the top ten shootout, with Hamilton abandoning his final lap after a mistake at the penultimate corner. "We start fourth and I'm gonna have to fight from there.

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Ferrari have won the first two races and are in a strong position to win the third", he said.

Team boss Toto Wolff was likewise struggling to explain the turnaround in form between Mercedes and Ferrari. The auto doesn't feel much different so I think they have just turned it up.

"The amusing thing about being outperformed on Saturday is that you are the lion that is just waiting to jump on its prey", he added.

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. "We definitely were not doing that for the cameras", said a clearly relieved Ricciardo. I think overall if you take into account all the testing we did et cetera, then Mercedes is still the favourite going in. "That will be fun".

MercedesAMG have dominated in China for the past 7 years for the last time a Silver Arrow vehicle failed to line up on the pole. I think from my side there wasn't much to do. "But it's a track where you need to find that sweet spot and if you are a little bit out you drop a little bit of time", the German said. It was also only Ferrari's second in Shanghai after Rubens Barrichello started the inaugural Chinese race from the front in 2004.

The rest of the top ten sees Hulkenberg in the Renault in seventh, the Force India of Perez in eighth, the second Renault driven by Sainz in ninth and Romain Grosjean for Haas in 10th.