Hamilton smashes Shanghai record to take pole

Updated: 

Lewis Hamilton shattered the Shanghai lap record to take pole ahead of Sebastian Vettel at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Mercedes driver finished second behind Vettel in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last month after starting at the front of the grid.

Hamilton, left frustrated by his team's pit-stop strategy in Melbourne, laid down another marker by clocking one minute 31.678 seconds to better a record Kimi Raikkonen had set earlier in the day during the second qualifying session.

Vettel will also start on the front row after pipping Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas right at the end of the Q3, the four-time world champion denying Mercedes a front-row lockout.

Vettel was 0.186secs slower than Hamilton, who will be eyeing his fifth victory in China after claiming a sixth successive F1 pole.

Raikkonen had already bettered the legendary Michael Schumacher's record lap of 1:32.23, set back in 2004, to set the pace in Q2.

Yet Hamilton went quicker, taking his 63rd pole in Formula One to move two short of the mark set by Ayrton Senna, with Raikkonen qualifying fourth ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo's team-mate Max Verstappen endured the misery of going out in Q1 due to an engine software issue.

Sauber reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, replacing the injured Pascal Wehrlein, hit a wall in Q1 but still made it through to the second session. That was as far as the Italian went, though.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 1:31.678secs
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 1:31.864s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 1:31.865s
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): 1:32.140s
5. Daniel Ricciardo  (Red Bull): 1:33.033s
6. Felipe Massa (Williams): 1:33.507s
7. Nico Hulkenburg (Renault): 1:33.580s
8. Sergio Perez (Force India): 1:33.706s
9. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso): 1:33.719s
10. Lance Stroll (Williams): 1:34.220