Hamilton expecting 'unusual day' after taking record-breaking China pole

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Lewis Hamilton is predicting a close race in the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday after a record lap put him in pole position.

Hamilton will start at the front of the grid for the sixth consecutive time as a result of a blistering circuit of one minute 31.678 seconds in Shanghai on Saturday.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel pipped Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to take the other spot on the front row with a lap that was just 0.186secs slower than the Brit.

Three-time world champion Hamilton was second behind Vettel at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and expects the weather to have a big say in whether he claims his first victory of the year.

"Tomorrow [Sunday] is going to be an unusual day... it's going to be wet potentially, and I haven't driven the wet tyre this year. So tomorrow will be a new lesson for me." he said.

"It's super-exciting for me because we're really fighting these guys, having to raise the bar every time we go out - it's amazing.

"And I think Ferrari's race pace is a step up [over their one-lap pace], particularly when it's warm, so it will be interesting to see what the weather brings.

"Whatever the case I think it will be close, and that bodes well for one of the most exciting races."

Hamilton added that the new standing starts in adverse conditions after the safety car pulls in will increase the uncertainty.

He said: "It's also exciting as the starts are so much harder than before. I think there will be a lot of variability - a lot of people struggling to get away due to wheelspin.

"You have to drop the clutch with no reference points, aiming for 100 per cent - but you're just guessing. And the difference between two per cent can make a big difference to your start."