Hamilton: Ferrari will probably win in China
A downbeat Lewis Hamilton has accepted Ferrari will "probably" win the Chinese Grand Prix after their dominant performance in qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel produced a stunning lap to snatch pole from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, leaving Hamilton to start fourth behind Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas - the pair half a second off the pace of the Ferrari duo.
Defending champion Hamilton was at a loss to explain his own lack of performance and accepted conditions on Sunday would make his job even more difficult.
"The car felt okay but I don't really have the answer for it," he told Sky Sports.
"I think it's in the top three of the easier tracks to overtake. The Ferraris are too fast on the straight, so it will be interesting.
"It's a lot hotter tomorrow, so it will be a challenge to see if we can keep up with them.
"I don't know if we can challenge - we were half a second behind today. We were quicker in the last race [Bahrain] but they were able to hold on and will probably do the same tomorrow."
Vettel has won the opening two races of the season, giving Ferrari victory in rounds one and two for the first time since Michael Schumacher did so in 2004.
"They've been really strong all day," added Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. "Their qualifying performance... they put one on top and we really have something to think about.
"It's tricky. We are lacking grip. You can fall out of the window by the tyres getting too hot or being too cold. It's two extremes like we had in Bahrain. I think it's a tyre issue.
"Tomorrow it's expected to be a lot warmer, so I hope we have done the right thing set-up-wise and we have better pace in the race than Ferrari.
"There is not a lot of strategic plays either. If we have pace then we can undercut or overcut."