Chinese GP Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton claims Shanghai pole with ‘champion’s lap’

Lewis Hamilton overcame a fierce challenge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to claim Chinese GP pole and maintain Mercedes’ dominance of F1 qualifying.

Mercedes’ run of five successive Shanghai poles had appeared under serious threat when Ferrari, the Australian GP winners and early 2017 championship leaders, topped Q1 and Q2 but Hamilton produced a record lap of 1:31.678 to edge Vettel into second.

But Ferrari still start alongside on the front row for the second successive race as an exciting Q3 finale resulted in Vettel edging out the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas by 0.001 seconds.

Kimi Raikkonen disappointed in Q3 to take a relatively distant fourth, but the top two teams’ advantage over Red Bull – in excess of one second – meant the Finn still finished a long way ahead of fifth-placed Daniel Ricciardo.

“Textbook lap – nobody was going to beat that,” said Sky F1’s Martin Brundle of Hamilton’s six pole in a row and 63td of his career. “It was a champion’s lap.”

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Max Verstappen qualified on the back row after an engine software problem hobbled the power output from his Red Bull’s Renault engine and meant he set only the 19th-fastest time in Q1.

Despite expectations that McLaren would be fighting among the backmarkers, Fernando Alonso produced more Saturday heroics to qualify 13th – three places and 0.4s ahead of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Chinese Grand Prix Grid
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:31.678

2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 0.186

3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, + 0.187

4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, + 0.462

5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, + 1.355

6. Felipe Massa, Williams, + 1.829

7. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, + 1.902

8. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 2.028

9. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, + 2.041

10. Lance Stroll, Williams, + 2.542

Qualifying Two
11. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:34.150

12. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:34.164

13. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:34.372

15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:35.046

16. Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber, No time set

Qualifying One

16. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:35.023

17. Romain Grosjean, Haas 1:35.223

18. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:35.279

19. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:35.433

20. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:35.496

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