Sport

Vettel steals pole from Raikkonen in China

Vettel steals pole from Raikkonen in Chinaā€¯

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel led teammate Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari one-two in Saturday's final practice for the Chinese Grand Prix with his title rival Lewis Hamilton managing only fifth in his Mercedes.

Despite Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen looking stronger than the German throughout most of the three segments of qualifying, Vettel stormed to his 52 career pole position with a lap of 1min.

Will Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari make it three wins in a row or can Mercedes and Red Bull respond in Shanghai?

Although Verstappen recovered to finish fourth on track, a 10-second time penalty for his clash with Vettel dropped him to fifth in the final standings behind the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who had a subdued afternoon.

"We thought coming into today that we would be fighting for pole position but it was definitely out of reach today".

Vettel said even he was surprised at the qualifying gap with Mercedes, who have won five of the last six Shanghai races.

The Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took the fifth and sixth grid spots, with the team just barely getting Ricciardo's vehicle ready after an engine blow-out in final practice.

Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull - but his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo's power unit ate itself, dramatically blowing out flames and smoke from its back end.

The defending champion dominated practice here on Friday, but he was unable to get his tyres to light up in the cold conditions, and lines up behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the second week on the bounce. "So I'm really happy", Vettel said.

"To be honest I was expecting him to come earlier as I had no intention to resist as it was clear that he and Daniel were so much faster on the fresher tyres".

Grosjean gives Haas their first ever Q3 appearance in China.

"I didn't see him until late and left a bit of room". I think it felt it was my quickest stop I've had with the team.

Red Bull stole a march on the field by switching their drivers to new tyres and Verstappen promptly went on the attack but the young Dutchman ran off when trying an ambitious pass on Hamilton. "We were understanding the tyres, getting them to work better, but we could never achieve similar grip levels to Ferrari today".

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez. The McLaren twins piloted by Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were up next in 13th and 14th place respectively after being eliminated on Q2.

He damaged his auto running wide in the early laps in the opening race in Australia and then spun, losing several places and finishing sixth.



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