Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel Takes Pole Position At Chinese GP Ahead Of Mercedes

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

"We've been underperforming but I'm not going to let my head drop because I know we have a tough battle ahead of us".

The German, whose exemplary lap of 1:31.095 was a new track record, was 0.530sec faster than Bottas in qualifying and 0.568sec quicker than Hamilton, who has won an unprecedented five times previously in Shanghai and arrived in town as the favourite.

Bottas called it a "fair" pass and finished second with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in third. 'Today just went away from us, Ferrari upped their pace throughout the weekend, probably not showing their true pace yesterday.

Since Hamilton took pole position for the season-opening Australian GP, Ferrari have held a clear single-lap pace advantage over the world champions. A pit stop usually costs a lengthily 27 seconds, which may discourage a two-stop, but switching from the softs to the ultra-softs early could provide a powerful undercut that would allow Mercedes to gain track position when Ferrari makes its planned single stop.

"They have a really strong auto", he said.

"I could see that he was struggling on the tyres and tried to brake late into the corner and locked the rears a bit and hit him". Both cars were over half a second down on Vettel's pole time.

"We have seen the competitive picture change quickly over the past three races and it's clear that we still have much to understand about our vehicle and how to get the best from the tyres".

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"It's good to see all the times so close, but it means that we really need to bring our A game".

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel steers his auto during the qualifying session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 14, 2018. "I was just trying to hold on for whatever I had", Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. According to oddsmakers at YouWager, Sebastian Vettel is the current favorite, as he is getting odds of -175 to win.

"We will be starting the race on a different tyre and strategically that could be quite interesting". Sunday will be warmer with temperatures near 20C (68F) at the circuit outside central Shanghai.

"I was in no man's land today", said Hamilton.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was equally brutal in his assessment of both Hamilton's performance, and his squad's general pace deficit to Ferrari. "We definitely were not doing that for the cameras", said a clearly relieved Ricciardo.

Sergey Sirotkin narrowly missed out on making it into Q2 but managed to out-qualify team-mate Lance Stroll.

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