Hamilton on pole for Chinese Grand Prix

Hamilton took provisional pole from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 0.184 seconds after the pair's first Q3 laps, but Hamilton's second lap lowered the bar by nearly three-tenths in his pursuit of the front row.

Hamilton was fastest in Saturday's qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, and set the track record to claim his sixth pole position at the circuit.

Yet Hamilton went quicker, taking his 63rd pole in Formula One to move two short of the mark set by Ayrton Senna, with Raikkonen qualifying fourth ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

"The explanation is that Ferrari grew up in the Barcelona tests, won the first race, so it is very close between us at the moment".

"I managed to chip away at it from session to session with no major issues and the last lap was my best which is always the plan - sometimes it's in another session".

Rain is forecast for race day and Vettel, whose only win in China came in torrential conditions in 2009, added: "We will see tomorrow how important being on front row is. if we could have been a bit quicker it would have been even nicer".

"Thanks again to the team, who did a great job in the short amount of practice time we had today to get the auto set up well".

"Maybe I chickened on the brakes slightly on the last lap". Certainly we've seen in previous years in qualy they seem to be able to really get on top of what they have.

"It's more exciting than ever for me, we're really fighting these guys, it's unbelievable".

Ferrari looked strong all day in China, securing one-two in FP3 and again in Q2, but Hamilton continually improved over the course of the day and crossed the line with a new lap record of 1:31.678.

"If we get things 100 per cent right I'm sure we'll be fine, but we know that if we have a bit of difficulties you lose time and a lot of positions".

Hamilton believes Ferrari might have the stronger auto on Sunday, based on its form in the Australian Grand Prix.

The race could well be wet, with overnight rain predicted and cooler temperatures than qualifying, which was dry and bright.

"I heard it's going to be wet to start off and I haven't driven the wet tyre yet this season so that's going to be fun to experience the bigger vehicle and wider tyres for the first time".

"I think he was happy about losing the bet". "So tomorrow will be a new lesson for me. I think last time it was 0.002 (seconds) and now it was 0.001 (seconds)", said Bottas.

"I think our auto is strong no matter what".

The first session of qualifying ended with a heavy crash for Sauber driver Antonio Giovinazzi.

"When your battle is within a team it is very easy for a team to implode as a constant battle for the whole unit to be working together toward the same goal has a conflict of interests within it", Hamilton told a group of reporters at a round table at the Chinese Grand Prix.

  • Julie Sanders