PODIUM PRACTICE? Mercedes Lewis Hamilton (centre) has secured his third consecutive pole for the season, with team mate Nico Rosberg (L) and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel right behind him. Image: AFP / Fred Dufour
SHANGHAI, China - Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton stormed to his third successive pole of the season, and third in a row in China, after edging team mate Nico Rosberg in a front-row lockout for Mercedes on Saturday (April 11).
Hamilton, unbeaten in qualifying so far during the 2015 season, lapped the 5.4km Shanghai International Circuit in 1min35.782sec to take his 41st career pole just 0.042 of a second clear of Rosberg.
NEXT TIME, NICO
"Oh, come on guys," exclaimed a frustrated Rosberg when informed over the radio that he had lost out by such a small margin.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, winner of the previous race in Malaysia, will start third.
Ferrari, who was helped by a bold strategy gamble and searing temperatures at Sepang, continued to lead the chasing pack but were unable to match Mercedes' formidable one-lap pace in the cooler conditions. Vettel's best time was nearly a second off Hamilton's benchmark.
Brazilian Felipe Massa and Finland's Valtteri Bottas, seeking to re-establish their Williams team as Mercedes' closest challengers, were fourth and fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in sixth.
Former champions Red Bull, who had looked the third-best team after final practice, dropped back with Australian Daniel Ricciardo only seventh. His Russian team mate Daniil Kvyat, meanwhile, failed to even make it through to the top 10.
McLaren had another bleak afternoon and failed to make it past the first session of qualifying for the third successive weekend, once again qualifying ahead of only the backmarking Manor Marussias.
Both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso had hoped to make it into the second phase after an encouraging Friday but in the end missed the cut by just over two tenths of a second and will start 17th and 18th, respectively.
The 2015 Chinese GP will start at 8am SA-local time. Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.
2015 Chinese GP Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min35.782
2 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min35.824
3 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 1min36.687
4 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min36.954
5 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min37.143
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min37.232
7 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull 1min37.540
8 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min37.905
9 Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber - Ferrari 1min38.067
10 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 1min38.158
11 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 1min38.134
12 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull 1min38.209
13 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso 1min38.393
14 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 1min38.538
15 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 1min39.290
16 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min39.216
17 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min39.276
18 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 1min39.280
19 Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia 1min42.091
20 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia 1min42.842
1-10: third and final qualifying session
11-15: second qualifying session
16-20: first qualifying session