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Chinese GP: Scorching Lewis Hamilton takes pole, Sebastian Vettel second

The German driver denying Mercedes a qualifying one-two for Sunday yet again!

SNS | New Delhi |

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched his sixth straight pole on Saturday, ensuring he will start at the front of the grid as the Chinese Grand Prix, breaking a track record in the process. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was a close second to deny Mercedes an one-two, pipping Valterri Bottas by just 0.001s to replicate Australia’s front-grid.

Q1 is generally supposed to be sedate compared to the later sessions, but there was plenty of drama on the Shanghai circuit. With Antonio Giovonazzi spinning out and severely damaging his car after a spin out, crashing into the wall which then in turn curtailed a few drivers chances of progressing into the session as yellow flags were waived. Red Bull driver Max Verstapen was the big name who failed to progress, struggling with an engine problem in his car and unable to set a decent time.

Q2 saw Kimi Raikkonen break Michael Schumacher’s lap record that was set in 2004, sizzling in a 1.1:32.181 time, but it was Ferrari’s decision to send both their drivers out in the closing stages for a final lap that puzzled many. At that time they were safely in the top four and in no danger of missing out on the final session, but still chose to send both their drivers out for a final lap which set hopes high that Ferrari would manage a first one-two in qualifying since 2008.

It wasn't to be, as Lewis Hamilton unleashed a scorching lap time of 1:31.902, which even put Raikkonen’s earlier time to shade. Bottas was impressive himself, but Vettel managed to pip him to a place on the front row with a stunning final lap. Vettel’s teammate, Raikkonen will be disappointed as he could not replicate his Q1 heroics in the final session and was heard on the team radio complaining of an issue with his car.

Daniel Ricciardo, desperate to make up for lost time after his retirement in Australia, was decent and beat Felipe Massa and the impressive Nico Hulkenberg to 5th place. 

Force India had mixed fortunes with Sergio Perez ending up 8th but his teamamte, Esteban Ocon, will start last on the grid after failing to progress from Q1.

Behind Perez was Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat and signs were encouraging for McLaren driver Fernando Alonso, the double-world champion nabbing a credible 13th place on the grid, an impressive feat considering the multitude of problems his Honda-powered car has.

So while the advantage is very much with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, they will have to be wary on Sunday, as Ferrari have a car which is arguably better on race day.

The top 10 drivers as they will line out on the grid for Sunday’s race:
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Valterri Bottas Mercedes
4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
6. Felipe Massa Williams
7. Nico Hulkenberg Renault
8. Sergio Perez Force India
9. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
10. Lance Stroll Williiams