Sunday 23 October 2016

Pole for Lewis Hamilton in China

Published 11/04/2015 | 12:41

Lewis Hamilton during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton's love of the Shanghai International Circuit continues to show no bounds as the reigning Formula One champion again claimed pole position for the race.

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Hamilton now has a record five poles to his name at the track, and three in succession, to take his tally to 41 overall in his career.

The 30-year-old Briton ultimately finished just 0.042secs ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to give the team another front-row lock out.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a surprise winner last time out in Malaysia, will start third, albeit down by nine tenths of a second on Hamilton.

Hamilton finished two tenths of a second quicker than Rosberg in Q1, in which both drivers managed to save a spare set of the quicker soft tyres for the race, and three tenths in Q2.

Come Q3, Hamilton's first flying lap was a stormer at one minute 35.782secs, with more expected come his second run.

However, the Briton failed to improve, and with Rosberg behind him the German came close to snatching top spot.

After being informed of the gap to Hamilton over the team radio, a clearly frustrated Rosberg said: "Oh come on guys!"

Vettel did all he could to finish as next best as it is clear with cooler track and air temperatures the race is now Mercedes to lose as Ferrari are unlikely to come close in the race.

The four-times champion starts ahead of Williams pair Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen down in sixth place as he struggled in Q3, with his best lap in Q2.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was seventh quickest ahead of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, with Sauber pair Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson performing superbly to claim ninth and 10th.

Pastor Maldonado lines up 11th, missing out on a place in the top 10 by seven thousandths of a second, with Daniil Kvyat a surprisingly lowly and disappointing 12th in his Red Bull.

Toro Rosso rookies Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr start 13th and 14th, with Sergio Perez 15th in a Force India that is off the pace as the team's financial issues means they will not have their new car on the grid until June.

From the initial 18-minute session, Force India's Nico Hulkenberg led the list of departees, finishing three tenths of a second behind team -mate Perez.

Behind the German occupying the ninth row come McLaren pair Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, split by four thousandths of a second.

Ahead of qualifying Button had suggested Q2 was a realistic goal, only to fall two tenths of a second shy, albeit ahead of Alonso for the second consecutive race.

A naturally disappointed Button said: "The car didn't feel bad so it's interesting when you find a good balance but the lap time is not there.

"We've made good improvements this weekend, but qualifying just wasn't for us.

"Hopefully we'll be racing the cars in front tomorrow, but we hoped to be competing with them in qualifying as well."

For the first time this season Manor had both cars taking part in qualifying, with both also comfortably finishing within the 107 per cent rule.

Will Stevens, forced to sit out qualifying and the races in Australia and Malaysia due to issues, finally enjoyed a one-lap session.

The 23-year-old Briton will start 19th, eight tenths of a second ahead of Roberto Merhi, albeit three seconds behind Alonso, underlining that whilst Manor are fighting, they still have a lot of work to do.

Asked as to why he has such an affinity with the circuit, Hamilton said: "People keep asking me that and I don't really know.

"Have you seen the banners and support? It's unreal. But I just like the track as it naturally suits my driving style, one I generally enjoy driving.

"Overall, it's a tough circuit with a great combination of corners, and the race is a good challenge.

"We've still a tough race ahead because the Ferraris are good on long-run pace, so it's not over by any means."

Rosberg's disappointment in coming so close to toppling Hamilton was obvious as he said: "To finish just four hundredths behind makes it even more annoying and disappointing.

"That's just a blink of an eye."

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