F1: Sebastian Vettel seals pole for Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes is in for a challenging Chinese Grand Prix after a troublesome qualifying session in Shanghai and doubts the Silver Arrows can challenge Ferrari on Sunday. The four-time F1 series champion has finished second and third in the two races this season, respectively, and could use a win to get back the momentum from his 2017 year where he won nine races.

The 30-year-old turned up the heat at a cold Shanghai International Circuit with a scorching lap of one minute, 33.018 seconds which put him a 0.451 seconds clear of Raikkonen. "So we started to really embrace those days and try to learn".

Sebastian Vettel claimed pole ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by just 0.087 seconds.

"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". "We thought coming into today that we'd be fighting for the pole position". "The vehicle was fantastic and just kept getting better". "It has been a good day", said Hamilton.

After allowing Vettel and Ferrari to top the podium in each of the season's first two races, this is a good place for Mercedes to bounce back. Obviously it's going to be a long race. "So I'm not anxious at all, I just know that I have to work hard, keep working harder, building on the rapport of my team". Max Verstappen was fifth quickest in both sessions, closing in to end the day 0.341 seconds off Hamilton's pace.

MercedesAMG' Valtteri Bottas lines up in 3rd. "I really think it's just a bit of a odd one today".

Bottas edged his teammate, but both make up the second row, while Red Bull do the same in the third as Australian Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a blown engine in Free Practice 3 to snag sixth spot. The Finn then went quicker on his final lap but Vettel proved to have something more when it counted, putting in an exemplary lap of 1.31.095, eight-hundredths up on his team-mate and a new track record.

Fernando Alonso beat Stoffel Vandoorne 16-3 in qualifying last season and has made another strong start in 2018. "We got through all the laps that we needed".

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon are also level, with the Frenchman making up for his Melbourne deficit in the desert by making Q3 for a Force India team who have struggled to meet expectations.

Lance Stroll in P18 led the Sauber drivers, with Charles Leclerc, who nearly crashed his vehicle when he ran wide out of the last corner before his final lap, heading Marcus Ericsson by half a second.

  • Leroy Wright